Monthly Archives: January 2010


Congratulations, Dr. Barbara Harris and Shawn Dvorak, for your exciting discoveries. Patience, persistence, and being there at the right moment certainly pays off.


News Observing Photo Gallery Magazine Archive Shop at Sky

Discoverer Barbara Harris with her scope
Barbara Harris

Bulletin at a Glance

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

The Amateurs Who Discovered the U Scorpii Eruption

January 29, 2010 | Astronomers worldwide were waiting — but two remarkable amateurs in Florida turned out to be the ones watching at just the right time. > read more 

Asteroids Pale After Close Encounters

January 23, 2010 | A new analysis reveals that asteroids with “fresh” surfaces may have been disrupted by near-Earth encounters in the last few hundred thousand years. > read more 

Spirit Morphs into a Martian Lander

January 26, 2010 | NASA managers have decided to halt attempts to free a Martian rover that’s been stuck in sand for 10 months and to concentrate instead on “stationary science” that doesn’t require mobility. > read more 

The Passing of Andrew Lange

January 25, 2010 | One of the leading lights of cosmology died on January 21st. Andrew Lange’s observations of the cosmic microwave background using the balloon-borne Boomerang experiment revealed that the universe has a flat geometry. > read more 



Mars in January 2010
Bill Flanagan

Making the Most of Mars

January 25, 2010 | Mars is closer to Earth in late January and early February than it will be again for the next four years. > read more 

Thar She Blows! U Scorpii Erupts As Predicted

January 28, 2010 | This famous recurrent nova has just leapt from 18th to 8th magnitude overnight. Astronomers worldwide were waiting. > read more 

Tour February’s Sky by Eye and Ear!

January 30, 2010 | Say “goodbye” to Jupiter and “hello” to Mars, as the midwinter evening skies come alive with activity. Learn to identify what stargazers call the Winter Hexagon, and much more. Host: S&T’s Kelly Beatty. (3.9MB MP3 download: running time: 4m 8s) > read more 

Vesta in 2010

January 1, 2010 | Vesta is a prime binocular target in the winter and spring of 2010. > read more 

This Week’s Sky at a Glance


Looking east-northeast in evening twilight

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

January 29, 2010 | Fiery Mars, at opposition, shines as brightly as icy Sirius. Catch Jupiter departing low in twilight. And Saturn is now up in the east by 10 or 11 p.m. > read more 



Jeremy Perez

The Joy of Double Stars

January 28, 2010 | Double stars are fun, quick, and easy to observe. > read more



Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized



Roberts quit the popular western at the height of its popularity. He later starred in the TV series ‘Trapper John M.D.’

Pernell RobertsMembers of the Cartwright family on “Bonanza” were played, from left, by Dan Blocker, Lorne Greene, Pernell Roberts and Michael Landon. (NBC)
By Elaine WooJanuary 25, 2010 | 10:02 pm
Pernell Roberts, a versatile actor best remembered for his portrayal of the handsome, eldest Cartwright son on the classic television western “Bonanza” and later as the lead character in the medical drama “Trapper John, M.D.,” died at his Malibu home Sunday. He was 81.

His death after a two-year battle with cancer was confirmed by his wife, Eleanor Criswell.

Roberts became a star as Adam Cartwright, the heir apparent of the fictional Ponderosa ranch, a role he filled from the show’s debut in 1959 until 1965, when he left the cast despite the series’ immense popularity. “Bonanza” remained on the air for eight more years without him.

The longest-running TV western after “Gunsmoke” and the first to be broadcast in color, “Bonanza” broke the mold for its genre with its emphasis on character development over gunplay. The cast was headed by Lorne Greene, who played thrice-widowed patriarch Ben, and also featured Dan Blocker as the lovably oafish middle son, Hoss, and Michael Landon as the hot-headed youngest son, Little Joe.

Roberts was the well-educated and mature brother, who played Adam with a suave manner that won a legion of fans. He found the role unfulfilling, however, and left the show at its peak, a decision that caused him to be “scratched off by most of his contemporary fellow actors as some kind of a nut,” Times critic Hal Humphrey wrote in 1967.

Roberts had several complaints, chief among which was the relationship between Ben Cartwright and his grown sons. “Isn’t it just a bit silly for three adult males to get Father’s permission for everything they do?” Roberts said in the Washington Post a few years before he departed the cast. “I have an impotent role. Everywhere I turn, there’s the father image.”

A political liberal who later took part in civil rights protests, he also chafed at the mostly white complexion of the cast. The notable exception was Victor Sen Yung, who played a stereotypical Chinese house servant.

Born May 18, 1928, in Waycross, Ga., Roberts grew up poor on the edge of the state’s Okefenokee Swamp. In high school, he played the horn and acted in school and church plays.

He attended Georgia Tech and the University of Maryland but did not earn a degree from either institution, and he served in the Marine Corps band at Quantico, Va.

He began his theatrical career in 1950 at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C, where he performed in more than a dozen plays. In 1952 he moved to New York City and appeared in one-act operas and ballets with the North American Lyric Theater.

In 1955 he won a Drama Desk Award as the best off-Broadway actor for his performance in “Macbeth.” On Broadway he appeared with Joanne Woodward in “The Lovers.”

In 1957 he arrived in Hollywood and won roles in three movies, including “Desire Under the Elms” (1958), which starred Sophia Loren, Anthony Perkins and Burl Ives.

True stardom eluded him, however, until he landed the part of Cartwright’s No. 1 son in NBC’s “Bonanza.”

He helped his TV family maintain the ranch and fight off desperadoes and other scoundrels for six years, during which he also was given the opportunity to show off his singing voice a number of times.

But he frequently clashed with the show’s writers and producer “about the scripts, character development and other things” and grew so unhappy about “artistic compromises” that he became, as one headline described his decision, a “Bonanza Deserter.” His character was written out of the show.

Some of Roberts’ first television roles after leaving “Bonanza” were on rival westerns, including “Gunsmoke,” “The Big Valley” and “The Virginian.”

He also appeared on other leading series of the 1970s, such as “Hawaii Five-O” and “Marcus Welby, M.D.”

His comeback role was Dr. John McIntyre in the CBS drama “Trapper John, M.D.” based on the character from the popular comedy “MASH.”

His work in “Trapper John” earned Roberts an Emmy nomination for best dramatic actor in 1981.

After the show ended in 1986, he made guest appearances on other series and TV movies, narrated a documentary and hosted the short-lived “FBI: The Untold Stories” (1991). He retired in the late 1990s.

A son from his first marriage, Chris, died in 1989. He is survived by Criswell, his fourth wife. Services will be private.

Roberts said in several interviews that he harbored no regrets about abandoning “Bonanza,” which he said he left “for my own good.”

He outlived the other Cartwrights: Blocker died in 1972, Greene in 1987 and Landon in 1991.

Pernell Roberts.
Of all the Cartwright brothers, Adam, was my favourite.
Always the coolest. Always the calmest of the brothers. Always the level-heading, rational minded son who told the truth and was straight-up honest with whomever his character met on the show.
Hands-down, the handsomest of all the Cartwrights.
He was the first to leave the show, and the last of the cast to pass away.Yes, many people, fans and associates of Mr. Roberts, lambasted him for leaving Bonanza at the height of his fame, but, Mr. Roberts did what he thought was best and followed his own mind.
Not only was Pernell a great actor, he also was an excellent singer, and unknown to many people, he contributed his support to the Civil Rights Movement, in his involvement in one of  the Selma to Montgomery Civil Rights marches. He cared enough for his fellow sisters and brothers to want to see right done by them in the country of their birth.
Pernell Roberts.
He will be missed.
Rest in peace, Pernell.
Rest in peace.
Published: January 29, 2010

Louis R. Harlan, whose definitive two-volume biography of Booker T. Washington convincingly embraced its subject’s daunting complexities and ambiguities and won both the Bancroft Prize and the Pulitzer Prize, died Jan. 22 in Lexington, Va. He was 87.

The cause was liver failure, said his wife, Sadie.

Mr. Harlan, a white Southerner, made race relations and Southern history his field of inquiry after attending a guest lecture by John Hope Franklin at Johns Hopkins University in the 1940s. When the historian Marquis James died in 1955 before he could embark on a planned biography of Washington, Mr. Harlan took up the task.

It took him nearly three decades to finish it, in large part because at the same time he was editing, with Raymond L. Smock, a 14-volume edition of Washington’s papers, published between 1972 and 1988.

“Booker T. Washington: The Making of a Black Leader, 1856-1901” was published by Oxford University Press in 1972 and won the Bancroft Prize the following year. “Booker T. Washington: The Wizard of Tuskegee, 1901-1915,” published by Oxford in 1983, won both the Bancroft Prize and the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 1984. “It was the first really three-dimensional work that went into the secret life, the private world, of the most famous black man of his time,” said Mr. Smock, the author of “Booker T. Washington: Black Leadership in the Age of Jim Crow” (Ivan R. Dee, 2009).

Louis Rudolph Harlan was born on July 13, 1922, near West Point, Miss. Three years later his father lost the family farm and the Harlans moved to Decatur, Ga.

While studying history at Emory University, Mr. Harlan enlisted in the Navy, which allowed him to complete his degree before entering midshipman’s school in 1943. As an officer on an infantry landing craft, he took part in the invasions of Normandy and southern France before being posted to Enewetak atoll in preparation for an invasion of Japan.

He wrote about his wartime experiences in a memoir, “All at Sea: Coming of Age in World War II” (1996).

After leaving the Navy with the rank of lieutenant, Mr. Harlan earned a master’s degree in history at Vanderbilt University in 1948 and a doctorate at Johns Hopkins in 1955. His first book, “Separate and Unequal: Public School Campaigns and Racism in the Southern Seaport States, 1901-1915,” was published in 1958.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a sister, Harriett, of Tallahassee, Fla.; two sons, Louis, of Ronceverte, W.Va., and Benjamin, of Secondcreek, W.Va.; and a grandchild.

In 1965, after teaching at East Texas State College in Commerce and at the University of Cincinnati, Mr. Harlan accepted a full professorship at the University of Maryland, within easy reach of Washington’s papers. He retired in 1992. Many of his essays were collected by the University Press of Mississippi in “Booker T. Washington in Perspective” (1988).

Critics praised Mr. Harlan’s skill at capturing Washington’s elusive character and getting a read on a personality that “had vanished into the roles it had played,” as he once put it.

“He was attuned to the age of segregation, he worked hard behind the scenes to change the system, but he found it impossible to change it while accepting it at the same time,” he told The New York Times in 1984. “He was like the Man in the Gray Flannel Suit who becomes what he does.”




Published: January 28, 2010
J. D. Salinger, who was thought at one time to be the most important American writer to emerge since World War II but who then turned his back on success and adulation, becoming the Garbo of letters, famous for not wanting to be famous, died on Wednesday at his home in Cornish, N.H., where he had lived in seclusion for more than 50 years. He was 91.
Left, Lotte Jacobi

Mr. Salinger’s literary representative, Harold Ober Associates, announced the death, saying it was of natural causes. “Despite having broken his hip in May,” the agency said, “his health had been excellent until a rather sudden decline after the new year. He was not in any pain before or at the time of his death.”

Mr. Salinger’s literary reputation rests on a slender but enormously influential body of published work: the novel “The Catcher in the Rye,” the collection “Nine Stories” and two compilations, each with two long stories about the fictional Glass family: “Franny and Zooey” and “Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction.”

“Catcher” was published in 1951, and its very first sentence, distantly echoing Mark Twain, struck a brash new note in American literature: “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”

Though not everyone, teachers and librarians especially, was sure what to make of it, “Catcher” became an almost immediate best seller, and its narrator and main character, Holden Caulfield, a teenager newly expelled from prep school, became America’s best-known literary truant since Huckleberry Finn.

With its cynical, slangy vernacular voice (Holden’s two favorite expressions are “phony” and “goddam”), its sympathetic understanding of adolescence and its fierce if alienated sense of morality and distrust of the adult world, the novel struck a nerve in cold war America and quickly attained cult status, especially among the young. Reading “Catcher” used to be an essential rite of passage, almost as important as getting your learner’s permit.

The novel’s allure persists to this day, even if some of Holden’s preoccupations now seem a bit dated, and it continues to sell more than 250,000 copies a year in paperback. Mark David Chapman, who killed John Lennon in 1980, even said the explanation for his act could be found in the pages of “The Catcher in the Rye.” In 1974 Philip Roth wrote, “The response of college students to the work of J. D. Salinger indicates that he, more than anyone else, has not turned his back on the times but, instead, has managed to put his finger on whatever struggle of significance is going on today between self and culture.”

Many critics were more admiring of “Nine Stories,” which came out in 1953 and helped shape writers like Mr. Roth, John Updike and Harold Brodkey. The stories were remarkable for their sharp social observation, their pitch-perfect dialogue (Mr. Salinger, who used italics almost as a form of musical notation, was a master not of literary speech but of speech as people actually spoke it) and the way they demolished whatever was left of the traditional architecture of the short story — the old structure of beginning, middle, end — for an architecture of emotion, in which a story could turn on a tiny alteration of mood or irony. Mr. Updike said he admired “that open-ended Zen quality they have, the way they don’t snap shut.”

Mr. Salinger also perfected the great trick of literary irony — of validating what you mean by saying less than, or even the opposite of, what you intend. Orville Prescott wrote in The New York Times in 1963, “Rarely if ever in literary history has a handful of stories aroused so much discussion, controversy, praise, denunciation, mystification and interpretation.”

As a young man Mr. Salinger yearned ardently for just this kind of attention. He bragged in college about his literary talent and ambitions, and wrote swaggering letters to Whit Burnett, the editor of Story magazine. But success, once it arrived, paled quickly for him. He told the editors of Saturday Review that he was “good and sick” of seeing his photograph on the dust jacket of “The Catcher in the Rye” and demanded that it be removed from subsequent editions. He ordered his agent to burn any fan mail. In 1953 Mr. Salinger, who had been living on East 57th Street in Manhattan, fled the literary world altogether and moved to a 90-acre compound on a wooded hillside in Cornish. He seemed to be fulfilling Holden’s desire to build himself “a little cabin somewhere with the dough I made and live there for the rest of my life,” away from “any goddam stupid conversation with anybody.”

He seldom left, except occasionally to vacation in Florida or to visit William Shawn, the almost equally reclusive former editor of The New Yorker. Avoiding Mr. Shawn’s usual (and very public) table at the Algonquin Hotel, they would meet under the clock at the old Biltmore Hotel, the rendezvous for generations of prep-school and college students.

After Mr. Salinger moved to New Hampshire his publications slowed to a trickle and soon stopped completely. “Franny and Zooey” and “Raise High the Roof Beam,” both collections of material previously published in The New Yorker, came out in 1961 and 1963, and the last work of Mr. Salinger’s to appear in print was “Hapworth 16, 1924,” a 25,000-word story that took up most of the June 19, 1965, issue of The New Yorker.

In 1997 Mr. Salinger agreed to let Orchises Press, a small publisher in Alexandria, Va., bring out “Hapworth” in book form, but he backed out of the deal at the last minute. He never collected the rest of his stories or allowed any of them to be reprinted in textbooks or anthologies. One story, “Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut,” was turned into “My Foolish Heart,” a movie so bad that Mr. Salinger was never tempted to sell film rights again.

Befriended, Then Betrayed

In the fall of 1953 he befriended some local teenagers and allowed one of them to interview him for what he assumed would be an article on the high school page of a local paper, The Claremont Daily Eagle. The article appeared instead as a feature on the editorial page, and Mr. Salinger felt so betrayed that he broke off with the teenagers and built a six-and-a-half-foot fence around his property.

He seldom spoke to the press again, except in 1974 when, trying to fend off the unauthorized publication of his uncollected stories, he told a reporter from The Times: “There is a marvelous peace in not publishing. It’s peaceful. Still. Publishing is a terrible invasion of my privacy. I like to write. I love to write. But I write just for myself and my own pleasure.”

And yet the more he sought privacy, the more famous he became, especially after his appearance on the cover of Time in 1961. For years it was a sort of journalistic sport for newspapers and magazines to send reporters to New Hampshire in hopes of a sighting. As a young man Mr. Salinger had a long, melancholy face and deep soulful eyes, but now, in the few photographs that surfaced, he looked gaunt and gray, like someone in an El Greco painting. He spent more time and energy avoiding the world, it was sometimes said, than most people do in embracing it, and his elusiveness only added to the mythology growing up around him.

Depending on one’s point of view, he was either a crackpot or the American Tolstoy, who had turned silence itself into his most eloquent work of art. Some believed he was publishing under an assumed name, and for a while in the late 1970s, William Wharton, author of “Birdy,” was rumored to be Mr. Salinger, writing under another name, until it turned out that William Wharton was instead a pen name for the writer Albert du Aime.

In 1984 the British literary critic Ian Hamilton approached Mr. Salinger with the notion of writing his biography. Not surprisingly, Mr. Salinger turned him down, saying he had “borne all the exploitation and loss of privacy I can possibly bear in a single lifetime.” Mr. Hamilton went ahead anyway, and in 1986, Mr. Salinger took him to court to prevent the use of quotations and paraphrases from unpublished letters. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, and to the surprise of many, Mr. Salinger eventually won, though not without some cost to his cherished privacy. (In June 2009 he also sued Fredrik Colting, the Swedish author and publisher of a novel said to be a sequel to “The Catcher in the Rye.” In July a federal judge indefinitely enjoined publication of the book.)

Mr. Salinger’s privacy was further punctured in 1998 and again in 2000 with the publication of memoirs by, first, Joyce Maynard — with whom he had a 10-month affair in 1973, when Ms. Maynard was a college freshman — and then his daughter, Margaret. Some critics complained that both women were trying to exploit and profit from their history with Mr. Salinger, and Mr. Salinger’s son, Matthew, wrote in a letter to The New York Observer that his sister had “a troubled mind,” and that he didn’t recognize the man portrayed in her account. Both books nevertheless added a creepy, Howard Hughesish element to the Salinger legend.

Mr. Salinger was controlling and sexually manipulative, Ms. Maynard wrote, and a health nut obsessed with homeopathic medicine and with his diet (frozen peas for breakfast, undercooked lamb burger for dinner). Ms. Salinger said that her father was pathologically self-centered and abusive toward her mother, and to the homeopathy and food fads she added a long list of other enthusiasms: Zen Buddhism, Vedanta Hinduism, Christian Science, Scientology and acupuncture. Mr. Salinger drank his own urine, she wrote, and sat for hours in an orgone box.

But was he writing? The question obsessed Salingerologists, and in the absence of real evidence, theories multiplied. He hadn’t written a word for years. Or, like the character in the Stanley Kubrick film “The Shining,” he wrote the same sentence over and over again. Or like Gogol at the end of his life, he wrote prolifically but then burned it all. Ms. Maynard said she believed there were at least two novels locked away in a safe, though she had never seen them.

Early Life

Jerome David Salinger was born in Manhattan on New Year’s Day, 1919, the second of two children. His sister, Doris, who died in 2001, was for many years a buyer in the dress department at Bloomingdale’s. Like the Glasses, the Salinger children were the product of a mixed marriage. Their father, Sol, was a Jew, the son of a rabbi, but sufficiently assimilated that he made his living importing both cheese and ham. Their mother, Marie Jillisch, was of Irish descent, born in Scotland, but changed her first name to Miriam to appease her in-laws. The family was living in Harlem when Mr. Salinger was born, but then, as Sol Salinger’s business prospered, moved to West 82nd Street and then to Park Avenue.

Never much of a student, Mr. Salinger, then known as Sonny, attended the progressive McBurney School on the Upper West Side. (He told the admissions office his interests were dramatics and tropical fish.) But he flunked out after two years and in 1934 was packed off to Valley Forge Military Academy, in Wayne, Pa., which became the model for Holden’s Pencey Prep. Like Holden, Mr. Salinger was the manager of the school fencing team, and he also became the literary editor of the school yearbook, Crossed Swords, and wrote a school song that was either a heartfelt pastiche of 19th-century sentiment or else a masterpiece of irony:

Hide not thy tears on this last day

Your sorrow has no shame;

To march no more midst lines of gray;

No longer play the game.

Four years have passed in joyful ways — Wouldst stay those old times dear?

Then cherish now these fleeting days,

The few while you are here.

In 1937, after a couple of unenthusiastic weeks at New York University, Mr. Salinger traveled with his father to Austria and Poland, where the father’s plan was for him to learn the ham business. Deciding that wasn’t for him, he returned to America and drifted through a term or so at Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pa. Fellow students remember him striding around campus in a black chesterfield with velvet collar and announcing that he was going to write the Great American Novel.

Mr. Salinger’s most sustained exposure to higher education was an evening class he took at Columbia in 1939, taught by Whit Burnett, and under Mr. Burnett’s tutelage he managed to sell a story, “The Young Folks,” to Story magazine. He subsequently sold stories to Esquire, Collier’s and The Saturday Evening Post — formulaic work that gave little hint of real originality.

In 1941, after several rejections, Mr. Salinger finally cracked The New Yorker, the ultimate goal of any aspiring writer back then, with a story, “Slight Rebellion Off Madison,” that was an early sketch of what became a scene in “The Catcher in the Rye.” But the magazine then had second thoughts, apparently worried about seeming to encourage young people to run away from school, and held the story for five years — an eternity even for The New Yorker — before finally publishing it in 1946, buried in the back of an issue.

Meanwhile Mr. Salinger had been drafted. He served with the Counter-Intelligence Corps of the Fourth Infantry Division, whose job was to interview Nazi deserters and sympathizers, and was stationed for a while in Tiverton, Devon, the setting of “For Esmé — with Love and Squalor,” probably the most deeply felt of the “Nine Stories.” On June 6, 1944, he landed at Utah Beach, and he later saw action during the Battle of the Bulge.

In 1945 he was hospitalized for “battle fatigue” — often a euphemism for a breakdown — and after recovering he stayed on in Europe past the end of the war, chasing Nazi functionaries. He married a German woman, very briefly — a doctor about whom biographers have been able to discover very little. Her name was Sylvia, Margaret Salinger said, but Mr. Salinger always called her Saliva.

A Different Kind of Writer

Back in New York, Mr. Salinger moved into his parents’ apartment and, having never stopped writing, even during the war, resumed his career. “A Perfect Day for Bananafish,” austere, mysterious and Mr. Salinger’s most famous and still most discussed story, appeared in The New Yorker in 1948 and suggested, not wrongly, that he had become a very different kind of writer. And like so many writers he eventually found in The New Yorker not just an outlet but a kind of home and developed a close relationship with the magazine’s editor, William Shawn, himself famously shy and agoraphobic — a kindred spirit. In 1961 Mr. Salinger dedicated “Franny and Zooey” to Shawn, writing, “I urge my editor, mentor and (heaven help him) closest friend, William Shawn, genius domus of The New Yorker, lover of the long shot, protector of the unprolific, defender of the hopelessly flamboyant, most unreasonably modest of born great artist-editors, to accept this pretty skimpy-looking book.”

As a young writer Mr. Salinger was something of a ladies’ man and dated, among others, Oona O’Neill, the daughter of Eugene O’Neill and the future wife of Charlie Chaplin. In 1953 he met Claire Douglas, the daughter of the British art critic Robert Langdon Douglas, who was then a 19-year-old Radcliffe sophomore who in many ways resembled Franny Glass (or vice versa); they were married two years later. (Ms. Douglas had married and divorced in the meantime.) Margaret was born in 1955, and Matthew, now an actor and film producer, was born in 1960. But the marriage soon turned distant and isolating, and in 1966, Ms. Douglas sued for divorce, claiming that “a continuation of the marriage would seriously injure her health and endanger her reason.”

The affair with Ms. Maynard, then a Yale freshman, began in 1972, after Mr. Salinger read an article she had written for The New York Times Magazine titled “An 18-Year-Old Looks Back on Life.” They moved in together but broke up abruptly after 10 months when Mr. Salinger said he had no desire for more children. For a while in the ’80s Mr. Salinger was involved with the actress Elaine Joyce, and late in that decade he married Colleen O’Neill, a nurse, who is considerably younger than he is. Not much is known about the marriage because Ms. O’Neill embraced her husband’s code of seclusion.

Besides his son, Matthew, Mr. Salinger is survived by Ms. O’Neill and his daughter, Margaret, as well as three grandsons. His literary agents said in a statement that “in keeping with his lifelong, uncompromising desire to protect and defend his privacy, there will be no service, and the family asks that people’s respect for him, his work and his privacy be extended to them, individually and collectively, during this time.”

“Salinger had remarked that he was in this world but not of it,” the statement said. “His body is gone but the family hopes that he is still with those he loves, whether they are religious or historical figures, personal friends or fictional characters.”

As for the fictional family the Glasses, Mr. Salinger had apparently been writing about them nonstop. Ms. Maynard said she saw shelves of notebooks devoted to the family. In Mr. Salinger’s fiction the Glasses first turn up in “A Perfect Day for Bananafish,” in which Seymour, the oldest son and family favorite, kills himself during his honeymoon. Characters who turn out in retrospect to have been Glasses appear glancingly in “Nine Stories,” but the family saga really begins to be elaborated upon in “Franny and Zooey,” “Raise High the Roof Beam” and “Hapworth,” the long short story, which is ostensibly a letter written by Seymour from camp when he is just 7 years old but already reading several languages and lusting after Mrs. Happy, wife of the camp owner.

Readers also began to learn about the parents, Les and Bessie, long-suffering ex-vaudevillians, and Seymour’s siblings Franny, Zooey, Buddy, Walt, Waker and Boo Boo; about the Glasses’ Upper West Side apartment; about the radio quiz show on which all the children appeared. Seldom has a fictional family been so lovingly or richly imagined.

Too lovingly, some critics complained. With the publication of “Franny and Zooey” even staunch Salinger admirers began to break ranks. John Updike wrote in The Times Book Review: “Salinger loves the Glasses more than God loves them. He loves them too exclusively. Their invention has become a hermitage for him. He loves them to the detriment of artistic moderation.” Other readers hated the growing streak of Eastern mysticism in the saga, as Seymour evolved, in successive retellings, from a suicidal young man into a genius, a sage, even a saint of sorts.

But writing in The New York Review of Books in 2001, Janet Malcolm argued that the critics had all along been wrong about Mr. Salinger, just as short-sighted contemporaries were wrong about Manet and about Tolstoy. The very things people complain about, Ms. Malcolm contended, were the qualities that made Mr. Salinger great. That the Glasses (and, by implication, their creator) were not at home in the world was the whole point, Ms. Malcolm wrote, and it said as much about the world as about the kind of people who failed to get along there.




Published: January 28, 2010
Howard Zinn, historian and shipyard worker, civil rights activist and World War II bombardier, and author of “A People’s History of the United States,” a best seller that inspired a generation of high school and college students to rethink American history, died Wednesday in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 87 and lived in Auburndale, Mass.
Associated Press

Howard Zinn

The cause was a heart attack he had while swimming, his family said.

Proudly, unabashedly radical, with a mop of white hair and bushy eyebrows and an impish smile, Mr. Zinn, who retired from the history faculty at Boston University two decades ago, delighted in debating ideological foes, not the least his own college president, and in lancing what he considered platitudes, not the least that American history was a heroic march toward democracy.

Almost an oddity at first, with a printing of just 4,000 in 1980, “A People’s History of the United States” has sold nearly two million copies. To describe it as a revisionist account is to risk understatement. A conventional historical account held no allure; he concentrated on what he saw as the genocidal depredations of Christopher Columbus, the blood lust of Theodore Roosevelt and the racial failings of Abraham Lincoln. He also shined an insistent light on the revolutionary struggles of impoverished farmers, feminists, laborers and resisters of slavery and war.

Such stories are more often recounted in textbooks today; they were not at the time.

“Our nation had gone through an awful lot — the Vietnam War, civil rights, Watergate — yet the textbooks offered the same fundamental nationalist glorification of country,” Mr. Zinn recalled in a recent interview with The New York Times. “I got the sense that people were hungry for a different, more honest take.”

In a Times book review, the historian Eric Foner wrote of the book that “historians may well view it as a step toward a coherent new version of American history.” But many historians, even those of liberal bent, took a more skeptical view.

“What Zinn did was bring history writing out of the academy, and he undid much of the frankly biased and prejudiced views that came before it,” said Sean Wilentz, a professor of history at Princeton University. “But he’s a popularizer, and his view of history is topsy-turvy, turning old villains into heroes, and after a while the glow gets unreal.”

That criticism barely raised a hair on Mr. Zinn’s neck. “It’s not an unbiased account; so what?” he said in the Times interview. “If you look at history from the perspective of the slaughtered and mutilated, it’s a different story.”

Few historians succeeded in passing so completely through the academic membrane into popular culture. He gained admiring mention in the movie “Good Will Hunting”; Matt Damon appeared in a History Channel documentary about him; and Bruce Springsteen said the starkest of his many albums, “Nebraska,” drew inspiration in part from Mr. Zinn’s writings.

Born Aug. 24, 1922, Howard Zinn grew up in New York City. His parents were Jewish immigrants, and his father ran candy stores during the Depression without much success.

“We moved a lot, one step ahead of the landlord,” Mr. Zinn recalled. “I lived in all of Brooklyn’s best slums.”

He graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School and became a pipe fitter in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where he met his future wife, Roslyn Shechter. Raised on Charles Dickens, he later added Karl Marx to his reading, organized labor rallies and got decked by a billy-club-wielding cop.

He joined the Army Air Corps in 1943, eager to fight the fascists, and became a bombardier in a B-17. He watched his bombs rain down and, when he returned to New York, deposited his medals in an envelope and wrote: “Never Again.”

“I would not deny that war had a certain moral core, but that made it easier for Americans to treat all subsequent wars with a kind of glow,” Mr. Zinn said. “Every enemy becomes Hitler.”

He and his wife lived in a rat-infested basement apartment as he dug ditches and worked in a brewery. Later they moved to public housing and he went to college on the G.I. Bill.

He earned a B.A. at New York University and master’s and doctoral degrees at Columbia University. In 1956 he landed a job at Spelman College, a historically black women’s college, as chairman of the history department. Among his students were Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund; Alice Walker, the novelist; and the singer and composer Bernice Johnson Reagon.

Mr. Zinn served on the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and marched for civil rights with his students, which angered Spelman’s president.

“I was fired for insubordination,” he recalled. “Which happened to be true.”

Mr. Zinn moved to Boston University in 1964. He traveled with the Rev. Daniel Berrigan to Hanoi to receive prisoners released by the North Vietnamese, and produced the antiwar books “Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal” (1967) and “Disobedience and Democracy” (1968).

He waged a war of attrition with Boston University’s president at the time, John Silber, a political conservative. Mr. Zinn twice organized faculty votes to oust Mr. Silber, and Mr. Silber returned the favor, saying the professor was a sterling example of those who would “poison the well of academe.”

Mr. Zinn’s book “La Guardia in Congress” (1959) won the American Historical Association’s Albert J. Beveridge Award. “A publisher went so far as to publish my quotations, which my wife thought was ridiculous,” Mr. Zinn said. “She said, ‘What are you, the pope or Mao Tse-Tung?’ ”

Mr. Zinn retired in 1988, concluding his last class early so he could join a picket line. He invited his students to join him.

Mr. Zinn wrote three plays: “Daughter of Venus,” “Marx in Soho” and “Emma,” about the life of the anarchist Emma Goldman. All have been produced. His last article was a rather bleak assessment of President Obama for The Nation. “I’ve been searching hard for a highlight,” he wrote.

Rosyln Zinn died in 2008. Mr. Zinn is survived by a daughter, Myla Kabat-Zinn of Lexington, Mass.; a son, Jeff Zinn, of Wellfleet, Mass.; and five grandchildren.

Mr. Zinn spoke recently of more work to come. The title of his memoir, he noted, best described his personal philosophy: “You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train.”

An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of Spelman College as Spellman.



Howard Zinn. The man who let the world know that the people speak; yes, the people speak.

From his monumental book, “A People’s History of the United States“, where he gave voice to the many racial and ethnic groups who have left their mark on this country, to his work as a Civil Rights worker, Mr. Zinn left an indelible record of earnest respect and compassion for his fellow human beings.

Rest in peace, Mr. Zinn.

Rest in peace.



Published: January 27, 2010
Zelda Rubinstein, a 4-foot-3-inch character actress best known for playing the indomitable ghost-purging psychic in “Poltergeist,” died on Wednesday in Los Angeles. She was 76 and lived in Los Angeles.
MGM, via Associated Press

Zelda Rubinstein in a scene from “Poltergeist III.”

The cause was complications of a heart attack she had two months ago, her agent, Eric Stevens, said. No immediate family members survive.

Released in 1982, “Poltergeist” featured a brief bravura turn by Ms. Rubinstein as Tangina, the clairvoyant summoned to scour a suburban home of spirits. “This house is clean!” Tangina memorably declared after attempting the job. The Washington Post called her performance one of the best by a film actress that year.

Ms. Rubinstein reprised the role of Tangina in “Poltergeist II” (1986) and “Poltergeist III” (1988).

A medical lab technician who became an actress in her late 40s, Ms. Rubinstein made her film debut in 1981 in the comedy “Under the Rainbow.” Her other films include “Frances” (1982), “Sixteen Candles” (1984), “Teen Witch” (1989) and “Sinbad: The Battle of the Dark Knights” (1998). On television she had a recurring role as the sheriff’s dispatcher Ginny Weedon in the CBS series “Picket Fences.”

Ms. Rubinstein was also known for her public advocacy of AIDS education and the rights of little people, the term she preferred. In 1981 she helped found the Michael Dunn Memorial Repertory Theater, whose tallest actor was 4 foot 6. Mr. Dunn, who died in 1973, was a dwarf actor known for the film “Ship of Fools” (1965).

Zelda Rubinstein was born in Pittsburgh on May 28, 1933; she was, she told The Hartford Courant in 2000, “the only one different in appearance” in her family. After studying at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of California, Berkeley, she became a technician in a blood bank.

At 47 Ms. Rubinstein abruptly decided to change careers, as she explained in The Courant interview.

“I had no idea what I would do next, but I knew it would involve advocacy for those people who were in danger of being disenfranchised,” she said. “I wanted a platform to be visible as a person who is different, as a representative of several varieties of differences. This is the most effective way for me to carry a message saying, ‘Yes you can.’ I took a look at these shoulders in the mirror and they’re pretty big. They can carry a lot of Sturm und Drang on them.”


Such a big presence on the silver screen, from such a tiny lady.

Zelda starred in many movies, but, she will always be remembered for her role of Tangina Barrons in ‘Poltergist’:


Zelda, may you now go into the light. There is peace and serenity in the light.

Rest in peace, Zelda.

Rest in peace.



He played patriarch Palmer Cortlandt on the soap opera from 1979 until the show’s 40th anniversary episode this month.

James MitchellEarly in his career, James Mitchell had leading roles in popular Broadway musicals including “Brigadoon” and “Paint Your Wagon.” He also taught movement for actors and theater students at Yale and Drake universities.
By Keith ThursbyJanuary 25, 2010
James Mitchell, a stage and film actor and dancer who became a soap opera staple in his role as Palmer Cortlandt on the long-running ABC show “All My Children,” has died. He was 89.

Mitchell died Friday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease complicated by pneumonia, his longtime partner, Albert Wolsky, said Sunday.

James Mitchell obituary: The obituary of actor James Mitchell in Monday’s Section A said that Mel Ferrer starred in the film “Deep in My Heart.” Jose Ferrer appeared in the movie. —

Mitchell joined “All My Children” in 1979 as the wealthy patriarch of one of the principal families living in fictional Pine Valley. A biography on the show’s website described Mitchell’s character as “gruff on the outside” but “a self-made millionaire whose love for his family runs to his core.”

His final appearance was earlier this month for the show’s 40th anniversary episode. He was nominated for seven Daytime Emmy Awards for his role.

“He really enjoyed it,” Wolsky said of the soap. “The meaner he could be, the happier he was; actors love to play the villain.”

Mitchell, born Feb. 29, 1920, in Sacramento, had leading roles in such Broadway musicals as “Bloomer Girl,” “Billion Dollar Baby,” “Brigadoon” and “Paint Your Wagon.”

He also performed in touring companies of “Funny Girl” with Carol Lawrence, “The Three Penny Opera” with Chita Rivera and “The King and I” with Ann Blyth.

He appeared with the American Ballet Theatre and with the Agnes de Mille Dance Theater.

Mitchell’s movie roles included “The Turning Point” in 1977 with Anne Bancroft and Shirley MacLaine, “The Band Wagon” in 1953 with Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse, “Oklahoma” in 1955 with Gordon MacRae and “Deep in My Heart” in 1954 with Mel Ferrer and including Charisse, who dances with Mitchell.

He had several television appearances, and his other soap operas credits were “Where the Heart Is” from 1969 to 1973 and “The Edge of Night” in 1956.

Mitchell also taught movement for actors and theater students at Yale and Drake universities. Drake awarded him an honorary doctorate in fine arts.

A memorial will be held at a later date, Wolsky said.



James Mitchell was an icon in his role, and as one of Erica Kane’s (Susan Lucci) many husbands.

He brought style, panache, and elan to his character, as  poor Pete Cooney, who rose to great heights as Palmer Courtlandt, a self-made man.

Rest in peace, James.

Rest in peace.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized



 January 28, 2009 ColorLines Direct. News and commentary from ColorLines magazine and RaceWire blog.

Facing It: State of Whose Union?Commentators Chris Rabb and Lola Adesioye sat down with ARC’s Tammy Johnson last night, to reflect on President Obama’s State of the Union. Watch them breakdown the president’s speech and what it means for communities of color.




The State of OUR UnionTammy Johnson comes to you “not as your elected leader, but simply as a Black woman striving for justice, a single voice delivering a few words of caution and hope about the state of our union.”


racewireGreen the Recovery: Expand Green Jobs to Women And Communities of Color
Help our idea become a reality.

Gabourey Sidibe is Not Precious Jones; Creates Pandemonium
Whereas white men have, since the beginning of the movies, been able to play any part, actors of color have had to contend with racial typecasts.

Prop. 8 Update: America’s Post-Gay & Post-Racial
The legal fight to overturn Prop. 8 took a scary turn this week for communities of color. The defenders of hetero marriage argued that gays and lesbians don’t need the state to protect them from discrimination because they have political clout.

SC Lt. Gov. Bauer: Free School Lunches Encourage ‘Stray Animals’ to ‘Breed’

At a recent town hall meeting, South Carolina’s Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer criticized the children of poor families, using an impressively dehumanizing metaphor and flunking basic causality in the process.

The State of Immigration Reform: Going Rogue and The Cost of Doing Nothing
On the eve of the State of the Union Address, protesters rallied in the nation’s capital to pressure the federal government to act on immigration reform.

ARC has more important and urgent stories to share in the coming months, but we need your help to bring them to light. Please consider a donation of $10 toward our next ColorLines Direct email.



 :: ColorLines Magazine Online :: The Applied Research Center ColorLines Magazine
900 Alice Street, Suite 400 :: Oakland, CA 94607
Phone: 510-653-3415 :: Fax: 510-986-1062
Subscription Orders: 1-888-287-3126

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized



 by Sonia Scherr on January 26, 2010

Some nativists are rile up about the Obama administration’s recent decision to give temporary refuge to undocumented Haitian immigrants.

Their anger comes after Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced on Jan. 15 that Haitians who were in the United States on the day of the earthquake may apply to stay here legally for 18 months. The government sometimes grants “temporary protected status” (TPS) to undocumented immigrants whose home country has suffered a trauma of such magnitude that they cannot immediately return. Even Mark Krikorian, executive director of the restrictionist Center for Immigration Studies, was quoted in The Washington Post as saying that he felt TPS was “totally justified in this case,” though he took issue with the renewals of TPS that often occur.

But others weren’t nearly so charitable. The white nationalist hate site featured a Jan. 21 column by Edwin Rubenstein titled “Haitian Immigrants Pretty Useless  — But Haiti Still Needs Them More Than We Do.” Rubenstein, an economic consultant and regular contributor, suggested that the administration’s decision was part of a “longstanding but little known Obama goal” to increase Haitian immigration. After unfavorably comparing Haitian immigrants to European immigrants and non-Hispanic American whites, he insisted that he only had Haiti’s best interests at heart. “What’s so generous about stealing the very few educated leaders that this pitiful country has been able to produce?” he concluded.

Glenn Spencer, who leads the anti-immigrant hate group American Border Patrol, usually complains about immigrants from Mexico. But he took on Haitians in a Jan. 19 online feature titled “The Haitian Exodus: Obama Will Flood Our Bankrupt Cities,” suggesting a la Rubenstein that the decision is part of a larger plan to boost Haitian immigration. “All indications are that the Obama administration is going to game the system to allow hundreds of thousands, if not more than a million Haitians into the United States,” he wrote. “The first step was granting temporary protected status (TPS) to up to 200,000 Haitian illegal aliens.” Spencer did note the importance of donating money for Haiti, so long as it went toward helping them in Haiti, not in the United States.

The European American Unity and Rights Organization, founded by former Klan boss David Duke, dropped any pretense of compassion in a blatantly racist Jan. 23 web posting that predicted the Haitians would be allowed to stay permanently: “If America fills up with Third World people and we turn into yet another Third World nation too poor to do anything, who is going [to] rescue the non-Whites then? Flooding America with non-Whites will destroy our economy, and Third World nations hit with future disasters will be lucky to get a third of the help that they are getting right now thanks to the United States with its White majority.”, the leading white supremacist Web forum, had several vicious postings from white supremacists upset with the decision to offer TPS to Haitians. “[T]hey fully intend to give these animals a path towards citizenship even as they import more of these savages,” wrote “MyselfMia” on Jan. 16.

White supremacists were spewing venom about the Haiti tragedy even before then, however. Two days after the Jan. 12 earthquake that left more than 150,000 dead, Hatewatch detailed reaction from the far right, including neo-Nazi Billy Roper’s assertion that Haitians should be castrated.



So, if these illegal immigrants were white Russians, Czechs, Poles, Hungarians and Irish, the white supremacist nativists would have no problem whatsoever with their being in America illegally. Not a word…not a peep would be uttered about Eastern Europeans some of whom are in the country illegally, and some of whom are criminals. As long as they are white, and creep into the country, everything’s on the okey-doke, and no screaming, bleating nor caterwauling would occur.  And if some of them bring their crime with them, well, why bother them with cries of expulsion? Crimes such as the following:  prostitution, human trafficking, drugs, extortion. The Russian Mafia, Bratva, has infiltrated America.

Russian crime figures such as Vyacheslav “Yaponchik” Ivankov who was the first major ethnically Russian organized crime figure prosecuted by the U.S. government, running his extortion operations out of Brighton Beach, committed crimes in America. But, I guess he is okay, since he happens to be non-Haitian?


As long as they are the right shade mums the word.

But, what the hell. The racist psychotic nativists might as well beat on the Haitians while they are down.

What more can be expected from such fine, upstanding and stalwart  of cowardly human refuse like the white nativists.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized


Black women the new “It” Girl, eh?

The it girl for everyones sympathy, or everyones respect and consideration?



Monday Jan 25, 2010 – By Eva McKend

Who would have thought that being a single black woman would be all the rage? If you’ve clued-in to the blogosphere over the past few weeks, you probably have noticed the trend. From Helena Andrews’ forthcoming book and film Bitch is the New Black to ABC’s Nightline segment on single black women, I am starting to feel like the “it” girl. Everybody seems to be talking about me and I’ve never been more ready for my close up. After all, there are serious issues at play that could really use the airtime.

As an underappreciated beautiful black woman, I hope that you would understand my trepidation over being haphazardly catapulted into stardom. For those of us who know, being single isn’t always cute and certainly isn’t something to exploit. It can be lonely and desperately painful but can be an unfortunate reality for so many black women.

Although it was not without flaw, I am comforted when I see television specials like that of the ABC segment. The largest blemish was Steve Harvey’s perpetuation of binary gender roles and antiquated irrelevant advice that only further contributed to the rhetoric of assault on women. The relationship advice in his book, which he predicates his comments on, encourages women to constantly be altering their physical and emotional selves to fit the male gaze. Apart from this disappointment and some problems with the numbers (the eligible numbers should have included black male college graduates, but I suppose they didn’t want us to hurl ourselves off of the Brooklyn Bridge and should have subtracted gay black men), I felt solace in hearing other black women facing what I am. It makes me feel as though I am part of a community grappling with a common struggle and ultimately as if I am not alone. However, not all black women share this sentiment. If Essence’s relationships editor Demetria L. Lucas could, “she would climb under a rock…to avoid the onslaught of articles, primetime TV segments, books, and countless blog discussions.” While Lucas very eloquently iterates her frustrations with the white constructed “Black Man Shortage” narrative, I don’t see what we have to gain from hiding from this reality. I do not deny that major networks do in fact pull out this story ever so often to sensationalize the issue but I wonder if we can start using these specials as a springboard to discuss what is really going on in our community. Many black women and men ask why we are still talking about this. To them I answer, because it continues to be a dire circumstance with no trace of getting any better.

Many of my black college educated male peers are disheartened and even angered by this discourse. It is almost as if they feel as though their masculinity is being challenged. I can’t tell anyone how to feel but I wish rather than get insulted, educated black men reflected on these reports as heavily as educated black women do. Admittedly, I am coming from a privileged perspective and I cannot speak for every community. I don’t know any black men in my age group who are not in college, even fewer who are not at the best institutions in the country, but I wonder why my peers and even some of my friends are, as the school counselor Chato Waters lamented, juggling four quality women in rotation. As blessed as I have been to be amongst what I perceive to be intelligent company, with it comes a sense of arrogance. My fear is that as young black men are patting themselves on the back and brushing their shoulders off, they are missing opportunities to codify healthy relationships with black women and even perhaps sleeping on the possibility to pull up even younger legions of black men. I would be foolish not to acknowledge that this is symptomatic of the behavior of many young men regardless of race but with a lot of things, black folks have to hold themselves to a higher standard. We don’t have time for games. Our community is hanging on by tiny threads of overworked black women. I appreciated a recent video I saw posted by Christopher Johnson but as one of my friends saliently noted; while he makes a plea for the good guys, he never really tackles the issues at hand. He never even addresses the numbers.

There are a host of problems that perpetuate this issue. Black women continue to have minimal representation in the media especially in all of our diverse hues, hair textures and body types. We all know that we very rarely see dark skinned women, full figured women and women who sport their God given hair. This contributes to a socialization that is hard to break yet we continue to watch and support the very mediums that do not reflect who we are. I just saw the preview for Jennifer Lopez’s next film The Back-Up Plan. I am always amazed at her ability to consistently attain romantic comedy movie roles where she plays opposite a white male lead—the subject of her race never being the focal point of the film. In fact, the same seems to be true for other women of color yet there continues to be black people who want to shy away from the specificity of our plight. Interracial dating is often suggested but for many black women, especially those who find themselves on the margins of celebrated beauty norms, this is not an easy task.

Additionally, young black men need mentors. I heard a young girl call into the WBGO Newark Today radio program to voice to her mayor, Cory Booker, her concerns about her brother who she feared was no longer attending high school but out on the street hustling. Over the course of the hour, Booker and other Newark residents made a plea, particularly to older black men, to become mentors. We need more black men teaching black young men the importance in loving black women.

I could go on and on about our problems as a community. We have lots of them. The fact that too many black women are single is only the tip of the iceberg but by engaging the issue rather than hiding under a rock, we could pick away at the glaciers. We could turn this single black woman talk into a discussion and ultimately a solution to the underlying issues.

Unfortunately you can’t really get over something that is still there. You cannot jump over a barrier that has not yet been knocked down. We can pretend but smacking that wall sure will hurt. What we can do and what we should do is use this ongoing hysteria to our benefit all the while highlighting the surrounding issues we face as a community. After all, Americans have a short attention span, being the “it” girl won’t last forever.



Filed under Uncategorized


The following is a New York Times article that is of importance to users of Facebook. The article addresses three important settings that Facebook users should be aware of and how to change those settings to protect and keep under control their electronic privacy.



By SARAH PEREZ of ReadWriteWeb
Published: January 20, 2010

In December, Facebook made a series of bold and controversial changes regarding the nature of its users’ privacy on the social networking site. The company once known for protecting privacy to the point of exclusivity (it began its days as a network for college kids only – no one else even had access), now seemingly wants to compete with more open social networks like the microblogging media darling Twitter.Those of you who edited your privacy settings prior to December’s change have nothing to worry about – that is, assuming you elected to keep your personalized settings when prompted by Facebook’s “transition tool.” The tool, a dialog box explaining the changes, appeared at the top of Facebook homepages this past month with its own selection of recommended settings. Unfortunately, most Facebook users likely opted for the recommended settings without really understanding what they were agreeing to. If you did so, you may now be surprised to find that you inadvertently gave Facebook the right to publicize your private information including status updates, photos, and shared links. 

Want to change things back? Read on to find out how. 

1. Who Can See The Things You Share (Status Updates, Photo, Videos, etc.) 

Probably the most critical of the “privacy” changes (yes, we mean those quotes sarcastically) was the change made to status updates. Although there’s now a button beneath the status update field that lets you select who can view any particular update, the new Facebook default for this setting is “Everyone.” And by everyone, they mean everyone. 

If you accepted the new recommended settings then you voluntarily gave Facebook the right to share the information about the items you post with any user or application on the site. Depending on your search settings, you may have also given Facebook the right to share that information with search engines, too. 

To change this setting back to something of a more private nature, do the following: 

  1. From your Profile page, hover your mouse over the Settings menu at the top right and click “Privacy Settings” from the list that appears.
  2. Click “Profile Information” from the list of choices on the next page.
  3. Scroll down to the setting “Posts by Me.” This encompasses anything you post, including status updates, links, notes, photos, and videos.
  4. Change this setting using the drop-down box on the right. We recommend the “Only Friends” setting to ensure that only those people you’ve specifically added as a friend on the network can see the things you post.


2. Who Can See Your Personal Info 

Facebook has a section of your profile called “personal info,” but it only includes your interests, activities, and favorites. Other arguably more personal information is not encompassed by the “personal info” setting on Facebook’s Privacy Settings page. That other information includes things like your birthday, your religious and political views, and your relationship status. 

After last month’s privacy changes, Facebook set the new defaults for this other information to viewable by either “Everyone” (for family and relationships, aka relationship status) or to “Friends of Friends” (birthday, religious and political views). Depending on your own preferences, you can update each of these fields as you see fit. However, we would bet that many will want to set these to “Only Friends” as well. To do so: 

  1. From your Profile page, hover your mouse over the Settings menu at the top right and click “Privacy Settings” from the list that appears.
  2. Click “Profile Information” from the list of choices on the next page.
  3. The third, fourth, and fifth item listed on this page are as follows: “birthday,” “religious and political views,” and “family and relationship.” Locking down birthday to “Only Friends” is wise here, especially considering information such as this is often used in identity theft.
  4. Depending on your own personal preferences, you may or may not feel comfortable sharing your relationship status and religious and political views with complete strangers. And keep in mind, any setting besides “Only Friends” is just that – a stranger. While “Friends of Friends” sounds innocuous enough, it refers to everyone your friends have added as friends, a large group containing hundreds if not thousands of people you don’t know. All it takes is one less-than-selective friend in your network to give an unsavory person access to this information.


3. What Google Can See – Keep Your Data Off the Search Engines 

When you visit Facebook’s Search Settings page, a warning message pops up. Apparently, Facebook wants to clear the air about what info is being indexed by Google. The message reads: 

There have been misleading rumors recently about Facebook indexing all your information on Google. This is not true. Facebook created public search listings in 2007 to enable people to search for your name and see a link to your Facebook profile. They will still only see a basic set of information. 

While that may be true to a point, the second setting listed on this Search Settings page refers to exactly what you’re allowing Google to index. If the box next to “Allow” is checked, you’re giving search engines the ability to access and index any information you’ve marked as visible by “Everyone.” As you can see from the settings discussed above, if you had not made some changes to certain fields, you would be sharing quite a bit with the search engines…probably more information than you were comfortable with. To keep your data private and out of the search engines, do the following: 

  1. From your Profile page, hover your mouse over the Settings menu at the top right and click “Privacy Settings” from the list that appears.
  2. Click “Search” from the list of choices on the next page.
  3. Click “Close” on the pop-up message that appears.
  4. On this page, uncheck the box labeled “Allow” next to the second setting “Public Search Results.” That keeps all your publicly shared information (items set to viewable by “Everyone”) out of the search engines. If you want to see what the end result looks like, click the “see preview” link in blue underneath this setting. 


Take 5 Minutes to Protect Your Privacy 

While these three settings are, in our opinion, the most critical, they’re by no means the only privacy settings worth a look. In a previous article (written prior to December’s changes, so now out-of-date), we also looked at things like who can find you via Facebook’s own search, application security, and more. 

While you may think these sorts of items aren’t worth your time now, the next time you lose out on a job because the HR manager viewed your questionable Facebook photos or saw something inappropriate a friend posted on your wall, you may have second thoughts. But why wait until something bad happens before you address the issue? 

Considering that Facebook itself is no longer looking out for you, it’s time to be proactive about things and look out for yourself instead. Taking a few minutes to run through all the available privacy settings and educating yourself on what they mean could mean the world of difference to you at some later point…That is, unless you agree with Facebook in thinking that the world is becoming more open and therefore you should too. 

Note: Other resources on Facebook’s latest changes worth reading include MakeUseOf’s 8 Steps Toward Regaining your Privacy, 17 steps to protect your privacy from Inside Facebook, the ACLU’s article examining the changes, and’s comprehensive analysis of the new settings. If you’re unhappy enough to protest Facebook’s privacy update, you can sign ACLU’s petition. The FTC is also looking into the matter thanks to a complaint filed by a coalition of privacy groups, led by the Electronic Privacy Information Center. You can add your voice to the list of complaints here.


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized



Published: January 24, 2010
Robert A. Mosbacher, a native New Yorker whose swashbuckling career as a wildcatter in the oil fields of Texas and Louisiana paralleled and often intersected with that of President George H. W. Bush, whom he served as a fund-raiser, confidant, political adviser and secretary of commerce from 1989 to 1992, died at a Houston hospital on Sunday. He was 82 and lived in Houston.
January 25, 2010    

Pat Sullivan/Associated Press

Robert A. Mosbacher in Houston in 2008.

The cause was pancreatic cancer, according to Jim McGrath, a family spokesman. A businessman and world-class sailor with polished political skills, Mr. Mosbacher made the most of his tenure at the Commerce Department, which had often suffered as a cabinet stepchild. He provided prominent support for American competitiveness in high technology, including HDTV, and won a role for the department in approving the export of technology with military applications, a function that had been the exclusive province of the State Department.

He and his wife at the time, Georgette, a one-time model and cosmetics entrepreneur 20 years his junior, had entertained lavishly in Houston and New York but disappointed some Washington socialites with their more subdued social life in the capital.

In 1980, Mr. Mosbacher, serving as finance chairman in Mr. Bush’s quest for the presidency, was one of two associates — the other was James A. Baker III — to advise Mr. Bush to quit the race to avoid jeopardizing his chance to become running mate to Ronald Reagan, the ultimate victor. Mr. Bush’s vice presidency proved the springboard to his election as president in 1988.

“Without him, it’s highly unlikely I would have ever been president of the United States,” Mr. Bush wrote in a foreword to a draft of “Going to Windward: A Mosbacher Family Memoir,” a book by Mr. Mosbacher scheduled to be published in May.

Mr. Mosbacher was the son of a Wall Street runner who later made a fortune as a specialist and trader on the Curb Exchange, the predecessor of the American Stock Exchange. As a teenager, he shuttled between the Choate School in Connecticut and the family’s 43-acre estate in White Plains, where visitors included George Gershwin (who wrote “Summertime” there) and Ethel Merman.

After graduating from Washington and Lee University in 1947 and working for a year with his father, who had oil investments in Texas, Mr. Mosbacher struck out on his own with the help of a parental grubstake of about $500,000.

“I fell in love with Houston when I first arrived,” he told The New York Times in 1975. “I wanted to be a wildcatter. I wanted to live in the West or Southwest.”

It took a few years of poring over land records in county courthouses before a debt-averse Mr. Mosbacher — he said he had learned never to wildcat on capital or borrowed money — drilled his first well. It turned out to be a dry hole.

But in the mid-1950s he found a huge field of natural gas in south Texas and eventually drilled wells in Texas, Louisiana, Montana and western Canada.

He redeployed some of the family-owned Mosbacher Energy Company’s assets into ranching, real estate and banking, diversifying a fortune that grew to an estimated hundreds of millions of dollars.

It was at a barbecue in Texas that Mr. Mosbacher met George H. W. Bush; the two shared a background as ambitious scions of wealthy and accomplished Northeastern families.

With business success came an increasing role in politics, first by raising money for two failed Bush campaigns for the United States Senate that bracketed a successful one in 1966 for the House. In the 1970s, he served as finance chairman for President Gerald R. Ford. In 1988, he presided over a fund-raising effort that yielded an estimated $75 million and helped propel Mr. Bush into the White House.

Appointed to head the Commerce Department, Mr. Mosbacher said he aimed to develop closer ties between government and industry, perhaps, he hoped, with the aid of relaxed antitrust laws, so that United States factories could better compete in high technology.

He also complained publicly that hundreds of campaign contributors had been denied ambassadorships and other federal posts that he thought they deserved.

“There’s this perception,” he told The Times, “that fund-raisers are nice, interesting people to be sort of patted on the head when you need them and ignored the rest of the time because they don’t really understand the process.”

Away from government, Mr. Mosbacher was an accomplished sailor, though he was eclipsed on the water by his elder brother, Emil Mosbacher Jr., known as Bus, who served as State Department chief of protocol in the Nixon administration. Still, Robert Mosbacher won the 1958 Clifford D. Mallory Cup, the men’s North American championship, as well as world sailing championships in the dragon class in 1969 and the soling class in 1971.

Mr. Mosbacher married his first wife, the former Jane Pennybacker, by eloping when he was 19; he didn’t tell his family for six months. He adopted her religion, saying in his memoir, “My religion is Presbyterian, my heritage is Jewish — and I am proud of that.” She died in 1970.

They had three daughters — Diane, known as Dee, Kathryn and Lisa — and a son, Robert Jr., who succeeded his father as head of Mosbacher Energy and who led the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, a federal agency, in the administration of George W. Bush. The children survive him, as do six grandchildren and one step-grandchild.

Mr. Mosbacher is also survived by his fourth wife, Michele McCutchen, a Houston writer known as Mica whom he married in 2000.

His marriage to Sandra Smith Gerry ended in divorce in 1982. In 1984 he married Georgette Paulsin, herself twice previously married, who three years later paid $31 million for a Swiss maker of high-end beauty products called La Prairie.

They divorced in 1998; after she wrote about their relationship in a book, “It Takes Money, Honey,” Mr. Mosbacher said the split had resulted mainly from disagreement over where to live, he wishing to spend most of his time in Houston, she in New York City.

Mr. Mosbacher’s memoir makes it clear that a major regret was his failure as commerce secretary to persuade the administration in the autumn of 1991 that it needed to act aggressively to spur a sluggish economy and counter damaging political accusations that the Bush White House was out of touch with the concerns of ordinary Americans.

“I pushed so hard on several different instances that fall I am sure people wonder why I wasn’t fired — including me,” Mr. Mosbacher wrote.

Mr. Mosbacher finally persuaded a reluctant president to make a speech proposing a capital gains tax cut and allowing first-time home buyers to tap individual retirement accounts, but the resignation of John H. Sununu, the White House chief of staff, and attendant turmoil smothered any momentum.

“Looking back now,” Mr. Mosbacher wrote, “I am convinced that those missteps in 1991 directly contributed to the administration’s defeat a year later.”




Published: January 21, 2010
James E. Cheek, who as president of the historically black Howard University in Washington led it through two decades of expansion amid periods of campus unrest and competition from predominantly white institutions, died on Jan. 8 in Greensboro, N.C. He was 77.
Associated Press

James E. Cheek in 1983.

The cause was complications of coronary artery disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, said his son, James Jr.

Dr. Cheek went to Howard in 1969 from Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C., where he had assumed the presidency at age 30. At Shaw he had gained notice for taking bold initiatives to help disadvantaged students graduate through remedial instruction. He was credited with rescuing the university from insolvency.

Howard itself was in financial and educational disarray when Dr. Cheek was chosen as president from among 16 finalists for the job. It was a time when the nation’s predominantly white colleges were increasingly opening their doors to the brightest black students.

In his inaugural remarks in April 1969, Dr. Cheek pledged to make Howard, long considered the nation’s pre-eminent black research university, “a bold and vivid contradiction to the belief that black men and the institutions which serve them are inherently, intrinsically and generically inferior.”

Under his 20 years of leadership, the university increased its student body to 12,000 from 9,500; expanded the number of schools and colleges to 18 from 11; quadrupled the number of faculty members to almost 2,000; and increased its operating budget tenfold, to more than $400 million annually.

When Dr. Cheek arrived at Howard, students had protested living conditions and educational policies for the preceding two years. He himself had shown no reluctance to assert his views as a young man, when, according to The Washington Post magazine, he argued with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. about a policy of strict nonviolence in the face of brutality during civil rights demonstrations.

He also spoke plainly when he testified before a presidential commission in 1970 investigating campus unrest.

“Students are determined they are not going to be fired upon and not be prepared to fire back,” he said at a hearing, “and I think that is a dangerous kind of situation where students are confronted with officers who overreact.”

But Dr. Cheek, who sometimes wore a dashiki, soon became a voice for order on the Howard campus. At the start of the 1969-70 academic year, he said he would “not attempt to administer under intimidation, violence or coercion of any kind.”

In 1983, he became a target of protest when students demonstrated against his expulsion of the editor of the college newspaper over her handling of articles about a university official’s sex-discrimination complaint against another official. (Dr. Cheek later reversed the decision.) Students also had grievances over housing conditions, crime and what they called “mediocrity on campus.”

More fierce protests shut down the campus for five days in 1989. Students, who took over an administration building and staged sit-ins, were again angry over housing and academic issues and criticized Dr. Cheek as inaccessible.

But their chief complaint, one that drew national attention, was over Dr. Cheek’s naming of Lee Atwater, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, to Howard’s board. The students said Mr. Atwater’s tactics in managing George Bush’s 1988 presidential campaign had been racist.

Mr. Atwater denied the accusations but resigned from the board, and Dr. Cheek announced his retirement shortly afterward. He was later appointed secretary of education in the United States Virgin Islands.

Dr. Cheek was a Republican, but his appointment of Mr. Atwater had also reflected his feel for university politics. The federal government by law pays a significant part of Howard’s costs, and Dr. Cheek’s good relationships with Presidents Richard M. Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George Bush were helpful in keeping the money flowing.

In 1983, Reagan presented Dr. Cheek with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

James Edward Cheek was born on Dec. 4, 1932, in Roanoke Rapids, N.C.; his family moved to Greensboro in 1941. He became a licensed Baptist minister at 13 and was ordained at 17, his family said. He earned a degree in sociology and history from Shaw in 1955, a master of divinity from what is now the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in 1958, and a doctorate in classical theology from Drew University in 1962.

In addition to his son, Dr. Cheek is survived by his wife, the former Celestine Williams; a daughter, Dr. Janet Elizabeth Cheek; a sister, Helen Johnson; a brother, King V. Cheek Jr.; and four grandchildren.




Published: January 23, 2010
Jean Simmons, the English actress who made the covers of Time and Life magazines by the time she was 20 and became a major midcentury star alongside strong leading men like Laurence Olivier, Richard Burton and Marlon Brando, often playing their demure helpmates, died on Friday at her home in Santa Monica, Calif. She was 80.
Associated Press

Jean Simmons held a trophy in London after she was voted Britain’s No. 1 film actress in 1950.

Wellinger/Keystone — Getty Images

The British actress Jean Simmons in 1956.

Jerome Delay/Agence France-Press — Getty Images

Jean Simmons in 1991 with the actor Tony Curtis.

The cause was lung cancer, according to Judy Page, her agent.

“Simmons is one of the most quietly commanding actresses Hollywood has ever trashed,” the critic Pauline Kael wrote when reviewing her performance as the half-genuine, half-fraudulent revivalist preacher who succumbs to Burt Lancaster’s con man in “Elmer Gantry” (1960). Indeed, she rarely found roles to match the talent so many colleagues and critics recognized in her, despite a dazzling start to her career.

Plucked out of a dancing-school class at 14, Ms. Simmons appeared in three classic movies before her 19th birthday, typically eliciting adjectives like “lovely,” “radiant” and “luminous” in the reviews.

She was Estella, the mocking girl who was raised to break men’s hearts, in David Lean’s “Great Expectations” (1946). She was the sensual native girl whom five Anglican nuns sought to civilize in a convent high in the Himalayas in “Black Narcissus” (1947). And after seeing “Great Expectations,” Olivier chose Ms. Simmons to play Ophelia to his title character in “Hamlet” (1948).

At the time, however, Ms. Simmons was under contract to the British producer J. Arthur Rank, so Olivier interviewed dozens of other actresses before he was able to pry Ms. Simmons loose for 30 days of shooting. Her performance brought her an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress.

“I didn’t even know what an Oscar was at the time,” Ms. Simmons once said of her nomination. She would get only one other Academy Award nomination, for best actress, as the middle-aged housewife who runs away from her marriage in “The Happy Ending” (1969).

Ms. Simmons came to Hollywood in the early 1950s after her contract was sold to Howard Hughes, a practice not uncommon at the time.

Hughes, whose affairs with young actresses were notorious, wanted more of Ms. Simmons, then 22, than a celluloid image. And as one of the richest and most powerful men in Hollywood, he was accustomed to getting what he wanted, no matter that Ms. Simmons was newly married to the swashbuckling British actor Stewart Granger.

In his autobiography, “Sparks Fly Upward,” Mr. Granger described a telephone conversation in which Hughes propositioned Ms Simmons. After Mr. Granger heard Hughes say, “When are you going to get away from that goddamned husband of yours? I want to talk to you alone, honey,” he grabbed the phone and shouted, “Mr. Howard Bloody Hughes, you’ll be sorry if you don’t leave my wife alone!”

Hughes took his revenge by refusing to lend Ms. Simmons to the director William Wyler, who wanted her to star in “Roman Holiday,” the film that would bring Audrey Hepburn an Oscar and make her a star. And, according to the Granger memoir, when Ms. Simmons refused to sign a seven-year contract with RKO, the studio Hughes had bought in 1948, he threatened “to put her in three lousy productions that would ruin her career.”

One of those movies, “Angel Face” (1952), a film noir directed by Otto Preminger and co-starring Robert Mitchum, was actually well received, with Ms. Simmons playing one of the genre’s most beautiful killers.

“I had to do four pictures for Hughes, and then I was free, Ms. Simmons told the English newspaper The Guardian. “I never signed a contract with a studio after.”

In her first movie after her contract with Hughes ended — “Young Bess” (1953) at MGM — Ms. Simmons starred as the spirited and headstrong young woman who would become queen of England. “Young Bess” was the first of two American movies in which Ms. Simmons played opposite Mr. Granger. The other was “Footsteps in the Fog,” a 1955 thriller in which she played a maid who blackmails a man who has poisoned his wife.

In 1953, Ms. Simmons also played the determined title character in “The Actress,” an MGM film based on Ruth Gordon’s autobiographical play, “Years Ago.” Then she slipped quietly into supporting roles in the shadow of strong men.

She was the noble Roman who walked to her death with Richard Burton in “The Robe” (1953), although she did not share his new religion, Christianity. In “The Egyptian” (1954), set 13 centuries before Christ, she was the shy tavern maid who secretly loved the film’s hero, a physician. As “Desiree” (1954), she was mistress to Marlon Brando’s Napoleon, and eclipsed by Brando’s clowning. And no one was more decorous than strait-laced Sergeant Sarah Brown of the Save-a-Soul Mission, who was bedeviled by Brando’s Sky Masterson in “Guys and Dolls” (1955).

One of Ms. Simmons’s better roles was the spirited slave who falls in love with the gladiator (Kirk Douglas) who leads a rebellion in “Spartacus” (1960). But that film, one of several in which Ms. Simmons was dwarfed by a cast of thousands, was teeming with great actors, including Olivier, Peter Ustinov and Charles Laughton.

Jean Merilyn Simmons was born on Jan. 31, 1929, the youngest of four children, and reared in the North London suburb of Cricklewood. Her father, a schoolteacher, died soon after the director Val Guest visited the Aida Foster dancing school and chose Ms. Simmons to play Margaret Lockwood’s precocious younger sister in “Give Us the Moon” (1944).

“It can’t last, you know,” she remembered her father telling her. “You’ll be back here soon, just a plain Cricklewood girl again; so keep your head screwed on tight.”

But Cricklewood had lost her — to America and to marriage with Mr. Granger, a divorced actor 16 years her senior. Soon, though, the couple were drowning in debt; Mr. Granger had bought huge cattle ranches in New Mexico and Arizona with little money down. So they agreed to take any parts that were offered to them.

Between 1957 and 1960, Ms. Simmons, who had given birth to a daughter in 1956, starred in eight films. Mr. Granger, who had become a major star in the blockbuster adventure film “King Solomon’s Mines” (1950), had made the mistake of turning down a second seven-year contract with MGM, which cost him the lead in “Ben-Hur.” Most of the offers he received sent him off for months at a time to Africa and India.

Ms. Simmons had somewhat better luck, starring with Paul Newman in “Until They Sail” (1957), a melodrama about New Zealand women who fell in love with American soldiers during World War II, and “Home Before Dark” (1958), as a woman whose husband commits her to a mental hospital.

Reviewing that film, Ms. Kael, who often praised Ms. Simmons’s intelligence and grace, metaphorically threw up her hands: “Jean Simmons gives a reserved, beautifully modulated performance that is so much better than the material that at times her exquisite reading of the rather mediocre lines seems a more tragic waste than her character’s wrecked life.”

Ms. Simmons’s marriage to Mr. Granger, burdened by frequent separations and constant work, ended in divorce in 1960 when she fell in love with her “Elmer Gantry” director, Richard Brooks, who was 17 years older than she. They married that same year and had a daughter in 1961. The marriage lasted 17 years.

By the 1970s, Ms. Simmons’s career was waning. In 1974 she turned to the stage, touring the United States as Desiree in the Stephen Sondheim musical “A Little Night Music” and taking the production to London. On television she took roles in mini-series like “The Thorn Birds,” for which she won an Emmy, and making guest appearances on shows like “Hawaii Five-O.”

In 1983, Ms. Simmons checked herself into the Betty Ford Clinic for treatment of alcoholism. She spoke publicly about her addiction, saying that she did so that other women would know that they, too, could seek help.

In 1989, more than 40 years after David Lean’s production, Ms. Simmons returned to “Great Expectations,” this time a Disney remake for television and this time in the role of the malicious Miss Havisham, the demented old woman who — jilted on her wedding day — has groomed Estella to destroy men.

Two years later, when the popular gothic soap opera “Dark Shadows” was remade as a weekly prime-time series, Ms. Simmons starred as the matriarch of the Collins family, a role originally played by Joan Bennett.

She is survived by her two daughters, Tracy Granger and Kate Brooks, and a grandson, Ty Saville.

Those who knew her said she was generous, modest and unassuming. According to Mr. Granger, Ms. Simmons called Audrey Hepburn after she saw her in “Roman Holiday” — in a role Ms. Simmons might have had — to say, “I wanted to hate you, but I have to tell you I wouldn’t have been half as good.”




Published: January 19, 2010
Erich Segal, a Yale classics professor turned popular writer whose first novel, “Love Story,” became a staggering commercial success if not quite a critical one when it appeared in 1970, died on Sunday at his home in London. He was 72.
Gary Settle/The New York Times

Erich Segal in 1977.

Paramount Pictures, via Photofest

Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw in “Love Story” (1970).

The cause was a heart attack, his daughter Francesca said on Tuesday. Mr. Segal had been ill with Parkinson’s disease for 25 years.

Published by Harper & Row, “Love Story” was the novelization of a yet-to-be-produced screenplay by Mr. Segal. It chronicled the fate of star-crossed lovers, the highborn Oliver Barrett IV and the working-class Jennifer Cavilleri, who meet at Harvard, fall in love and, over the strenuous objections of Oliver’s family, marry. She dies, he cries and the story ends.

The novel spent more than a year on the New York Times hardcover best-seller list. It has sold tens of millions of copies and been translated into many languages.

Released to great fanfare on the book’s coattails, the movie, starring Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw, appeared at the end of 1970. In a 2000 article, Variety called it “the first of the modern-day blockbusters,” writing that it had grossed nearly $200 million and saved its studio, Paramount Pictures, “which was facing imminent destruction.”

“Love Story” received seven Academy Award nominations, including one for Mr. Segal’s screenplay; it won the Oscar for best original score.

Along with the music, several of Mr. Segal’s lines are etched in public memory. They include the novel’s opening — “What can you say about a 25-year-old girl who died?” — and, in particular, as the film put it, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry,” an aphorism that inspired decades of permutations and parodies. In the novel, the line was “Love means not ever having to say you’re sorry.”

“Love Story” was in the news again in the late 1990s, after Al Gore, then the vice president, was reported to have described himself as the inspiration for Oliver Barrett. (Mr. Gore denied having been the source of the observation.)

Mr. Segal set the record straight: Oliver, he said, was mainly a youthful incarnation of the actor Tommy Lee Jones. He did say that he had modeled Oliver’s freighted relationship with his father on the Gore family.

Mr. Segal had met both Mr. Jones and Mr. Gore in the late 1960s, when they were students at Harvard and he was there on sabbatical.

Before “Love Story,” Mr. Segal’s writing credits ranged from the screenplay for the animated Beatles movie “Yellow Submarine” (1968), on which he collaborated with several other writers; to “Roman Laughter” (Harvard University, 1968), a study of the playwright Plautus that was widely considered seminal; to the book and lyrics for “Sing Muse!” (1961), a musical version of the Helen of Troy story that ran for 39 performances Off Broadway.

Among his other novels are “Oliver’s Story” (Harper & Row, 1977), which continues the tale of Oliver Barrett; “The Class” (Bantam, 1985); “Doctors” (Bantam, 1988); “Acts of Faith” (Bantam, 1992); and “Only Love” (Putnam, 1997).

Mr. Segal also wrote “The Death of Comedy” (Harvard University, 2001), a well-received survey of Western comic drama from antiquity to modernity.

Erich Wolf Segal was born in Brooklyn on June 16, 1937, the son of Samuel Segal, a rabbi, and the former Cynthia Shapiro. After graduating from Midwood High School, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard, where he had the distinction of being both class poet and class Latin orator. He went on to earn master’s and doctoral degrees from Harvard.

From the 1960s to the 1980s, Mr. Segal taught classics at Yale. He continued to work as a classicist long after he became a successful novelist, holding visiting professorships at Princeton, Oxford, the University of London and elsewhere.

Mr. Segal first envisioned “Love Story” as a film. According to many published accounts, his screenplay was rejected by several studios as too sentimental for the time. Paramount urged him to release it as a novel first.

The novel’s prose style ran from the telegraphic (“That she loved Mozart and Bach. And the Beatles. And me.”) to what might easily be taken as comic (“ ‘Jenny, for Christ’s sake, how can I read John Stuart Mill when every single second I’m dying to make love to you?’ ”)

While millions of readers swooned, most reviewers harrumphed. “The banality of ‘Love Story’ makes ‘Peyton Place’ look like ‘Swann’s Way’ as it skips from cliché to cliché with an abandon that would chill even the blood of a True Romance editor,” Newsweek wrote.

In early 1971, after “Love Story” was submitted for consideration for a National Book Award, the fiction jury threatened to resign in a body unless the novel was removed from contention. It was.

But if critics found his novel insufficiently weighty, Mr. Segal appeared to take it in stride. “It takes the average person an hour and a half to read the book,” he told The New York Times in December 1970. “The movie lasts longer.”

Mr. Segal is survived by his wife, the former Karen James; two daughters, Francesca Segal and Miranda Segal, both of London; his mother, Cynthia Zeger of Manhattan; and two brothers, David, of Manhattan, and Thomas, of Baltimore.

His other books include “Greek Tragedy: Modern Essays in Criticism” (Harper & Row, 1983); “Oxford Readings in Aristophanes” (Oxford University, 1996); and “Oxford Readings in Menander, Plautus, and Terence” (Oxford University, 2001), all of which he edited.

None has appeared on The Times’s best-seller list.

A previous version of this obituary had an incorrect byline.




Published: January 18, 2010
Glen W. Bell Jr., whose idea in 1951 to sell crispy-shell tacos from the window of his hamburger stand became the foundation of Taco Bell, the restaurant chain that turned Mexican fare into fast food for millions of Americans, died at his home in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. He was 86.
Business Wire

Glen W. Bell Jr.

His death was announced Sunday on the Taco Bell Web site. No other details were provided.

Mr. Bell never forgot the first taco buyer at Bell’s Hamburgers and Hot Dogs in San Bernardino, Calif., one of three stands he owned at the time.

“He was dressed in a suit and as he bit into the taco the juice ran down his sleeve and dripped on his tie,” Mr. Bell recalled in “Taco Titan: The Glen Bell Story,” (Bookworld Services, 1999), a biography by Debra Lee Baldwin. “I thought, ‘Uh-oh, we’ve lost this one.’ But he came back, amazingly enough, and said, ‘That was good. Gimme another.’ ”

By the time Mr. Bell sold the chain to PepsiCo in 1978, it had grown to 868 restaurants. Today, the company says, more than two billion tacos and a billion burritos are sold each year at more than 5,600 Taco Bell restaurants in the United States and around the world.

Drive-in stands dotted San Bernardino when Mr. Bell opened his first one there in the late 1940s. One competitor, only a few miles away, was the original stand opened by two brothers with the last name of McDonald.

They all were capitalizing on the emerging Southern California car culture, offering prompt service and streamlined menus of mostly standard fare like hamburgers, hot dogs, French fries and milk shakes.

But Mr. Bell, a fan of Mexican food, had a hunch that ground beef, chopped lettuce, shredded cheese and chili sauce served in the right wrap could give burgers a run for the money. The problem was which wrap. Tacos served in Mexican restaurants at the time were made with soft tortillas.

“If you wanted a dozen, you were in for a wait,” Mr. Bell said. “They stuffed them first, quickly fried them and stuck them together with a toothpick.”

The solution: preformed fried shells that would then be stuffed. Mr. Bell asked a man who made chicken coops to fashion a frying contraption made of wire.

Tacos became a hit at Bell’s, selling for 19 cents each. They were such a hit that by 1954 Mr. Bell and a partner opened Taco Tia, his first restaurant selling only Mexican-style food.

Two years and three Taco Tias later, Mr. Bell sold his interest after his business partner resisted expanding any further. Mr. Bell then opened another fast-food Mexican restaurant in Pasadena, in 1957, and a year later took on three partners in a chain called El Taco.

After four El Tacos, Mr. Bell decided he no longer wanted to answer to any partners. He sold out again. Then, in 1962, with a $4,000 investment, he opened the first Taco Bell, in Downey, Calif. Over the next two years, he started eight more Taco Bells, each with a grand opening featuring live salsa music, searchlights and free sombreros. The first of its franchises opened in Torrance, Calif., in 1965.

PepsiCo greatly expanded the chain after purchasing it in 1978 for about $125 million, then spun it off to Tricon Global Restaurants in 1997. Tricon changed its name to Yum Brands in 2002.

Glen W. Bell Jr. was born in Lynwood, Calif., on Sept. 3, 1923, one of six children of Glen and Ruth Johnson Bell. When he was 12, the family moved to a small farm outside of San Bernardino.

At 16, with the family facing hard times, according to his biography, Glen Jr. “goes on the bum” and “rides the rails in search of work.” He joined the Marines in 1943 and served in the Pacific.

Back in San Bernardino after the war, Mr. Bell bought a surplus Army truck and began hauling adobe bricks at 5 cents each. A miniature golf course that he leased failed to make a profit. Then, he opened a hamburger stand in a Hispanic neighborhood.

Mr. Bell married Dorothy Taylor in 1947. They were divorced in 1953. He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Martha; three sisters, Delores, Dorothy and Maureen; a daughter, Kathleen; two sons, Gary and Rex; and four grandchildren.

The trade publication Nation’s Restaurant News has credited Mr. Bell with introducing millions of Americans to Mexican-style food. “I always smile,” Mr. Bell told the magazine in 2008, “when I hear people say that they never had a taco until Taco Bell came to town.”




Published: January 21, 2010
Marshall W. Nirenberg, a biologist who deciphered the genetic code of life, earning a Nobel Prize for his achievement, died Friday at his home in Manhattan. He was 82.
National Library of Medicine

Marshall W. Nirenberg

The cause was cancer, said his stepdaughter Susan Weissman.

In solving the genetic code, Dr. Nirenberg established the rules by which the genetic information in DNA is translated into proteins, the working parts of living cells. The code lies at the basis of life, and understanding it was a turning point in the history of biology.

Dr. Nirenberg identified the particular codons — a codon is a sequence of three chemical units of DNA — that specify each of the 20 amino acid units of which protein molecules are constructed.

The achievement, in a critical experiment in 1961, was the more remarkable because Dr. Nirenberg was only 34 at the time and unknown to the celebrated circle of biologists, led by Francis Crick, who had built the framework of molecular biology.

Dr. Crick and his colleague Sydney Brenner had established, largely on theoretical grounds, that the code must be in triplets of the four kinds of chemical units of which DNA is composed. But they had not developed the experiments to work out which triplet corresponded to which amino acid.

Dr. Nirenberg amazed biologists when he and his colleague, the German scientist Johann Heinrich Matthaei, announced their identification of the first codon. He pulled another surprise when he beat out better-known scientists in the ensuing race to identify the other 63 codons in the genetic code. He received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine shortly afterward, in 1968. (Two other scientists shared the prize with him.)

Marshall Warren Nirenberg was born in Brooklyn on April 10, 1927, to Harry and Minerva Nirenberg and grew up in Florida. After earning a Ph.D. at the University of Michigan, he started work at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., where he spent the rest of his career.

The project he chose was the synthesis of proteins, then being studied in mixtures of mashed-up cells known as cell-free systems. Dr. Nirenberg took the research a stage further by focusing on the genetic information that might be driving protein synthesis. He was joined by Dr. Matthaei, an excellent experimentalist, and the two decided to add lengths of RNA, a close chemical cousin of DNA, to the cell-free systems.

Success came when they added to their cell-free system an RNA molecule composed only of uracil, one of the four chemical units in RNA. The protein that emerged consisted only of phenylalanine, one of the 20 kinds of amino acids in proteins. Because the genetic code was known to consist of triplets, the experiment showed that UUU is the codon for phenylalanine, U being the symbol for uracil.

Dr. Nirenberg and Dr. Matthaei were such outsiders that they had not heard of messenger-RNA, made to transfer DNA’s instructions to the cell’s protein-making machinery. While biologists in the club were producing the first evidence for the existence of messenger RNA, Dr. Nirenberg and Dr. Matthaei had independently synthesized one.

By rights, their experiment should not have worked at all because natural messenger-RNAs carry at their front end a special codon that says to the ribosomes, “Start here,” a fact not known at the time. But the recipe for protein synthesis used by Dr. Nirenberg and Dr. Matthaei happened to contain twice the natural amount of magnesium, an anomaly that was later found to override the need for a start codon.

Dr. Nirenberg presented their findings at the next big conference of molecular biologists, held in 1961 in Moscow. His talk was given to an almost empty room, Horace Judson writes in “The Eighth Day of Creation,” his history of molecular biology. But one of the few participants recognized its significance and told Dr. Crick, who arranged for Dr. Nirenberg to give his talk again, this time in a large hall attended by an audience of hundreds.

Then followed the race to identify all the other codons, a prize that Dr. Nirenberg’s talk had placed in full view of a hall of better financed rivals like Severo Ochoa of New York University.

“It was a David-and-Goliath situation in which a young investigator without resources came into competition with a distinguished Nobel laureate like Ochoa,” said Philip Leder of Harvard, who joined Dr. Nirenberg’s laboratory after Dr. Matthaei had left.

Credit for the genetic code is often assigned to Dr. Crick and Dr. Brenner, who resolved its general nature through theorizing and with a clever experiment. But it was Dr. Nirenberg and Dr. Matthaei who cracked the code itself.

Mr. Judson, in his history, notes that efforts to test these ideas “achieved little until Matthaei arrived.”

Dr. Leder recalled Dr. Nirenberg as “enthusiastic and magnetic.”

“He had an idea every two or three minutes,” Dr. Leder said.

The solving of the genetic code was such a substantial advance that several researchers decided that the major problems in molecular biology had been solved and that it was time to move on to greater challenges. Dr. Nirenberg switched to neurobiology, but did not make discoveries of equal distinction there. His work on the genetic code was sufficient achievement for any scientific career.

He is survived by his wife, Myrna Weissman, a professor at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons; his sister, Joan N. Geiger, of Dallas, and four stepchildren, Susan, Judith, Sharon and Jonathan Weissman. His first wife, Perola Zaltzman Nirenberg, died in 2001.




Published: January 20, 2010
Robert B. Parker, the best-selling mystery writer who created Spenser, a tough, glib Boston private detective who was the hero of nearly 40 novels, died Monday at his home in Cambridge, Mass. He was 77.
John Earle

Robert B. Parker

The cause was a heart attack, said his agent of 37 years, Helen Brann. She said that Mr. Parker had been thought to be in splendid health, and that he died at his desk, working on a book. He wrote five pages a day, every day but Sunday, she said.

Mr. Parker wrote more than 60 books all told, including westerns and young-adult novels, but he churned out entertaining detective stories with a remarkable alacrity that made him one of the country’s most popular writers. In recent years he had come up with two new protagonists: Jesse Stone, an alcoholic ex-ballplayer turned small-town chief of police, who was featured in nine novels written since 1997, including “Split Image,” to be published next month; and Sunny Randall, a fashion-conscious, unlucky-in-love, daughter-of-a-cop private eye created at the request of the actress Helen Hunt, who was hoping for a juicy movie role. No movie was made, but the first Sunny Randall novel, “Family Honor,” was published in 1999, and five more have followed.

It was Spenser, though — spelled “like the poet,” as the character was wont to point out (his first name was never revealed) — who was Mr. Parker’s signature creation. He appeared for the first time in 1973 in “The Godwulf Manuscript,” in which he is hired by a university to retrieve a stolen medieval document, an investigation that triggers a murder. The first pages of the book revealed much of what readers came to love about Spenser — his impatience with pomposity, his smart-alecky wit, his self-awareness and supreme self-confidence.

“Look, Dr. Forbes,” Spenser says to the long-winded college president who is hiring him. “I went to college once. I don’t wear my hat indoors. And if a clue comes along and bites me on the ankle, I grab it. I am not, however, an Oxford don. I am a private detective. Is there something you’d like me to detect, or are you just polishing up your elocution for next year’s commencement?”

A conscious throwback to hard-boiled detectives like Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, but with a sensitivity born of the age of feminism and civil rights, Spenser is a bruiser in body but a softie at heart, someone who never shies from danger or walks away from a threat to the innocent. Mr. Parker gave him many of his own traits. Spenser is an admirer of any kind of expertise. He believes in psychotherapy. He’s a great cook. He’s a boxer, a weightlifter and a jogger, a consumer of doughnuts and coffee, a privately indulgent appreciator (from a distance) of pretty women, a Red Sox fan, a dog lover. (Mr. Parker owned a series of short-haired pointers, all named Pearl, like their fictional incarnation.)

Most crucially, Spenser is faithful in love (to his longtime companion, Susan Silverman, a psychologist) and in friendship (to his frequent partner in anti-crime, a dazzlingly charming, morally idiosyncratic black man named Hawk). And usually with the two of them as seconds, he has remained indomitable, vanquishing crime bosses, drug dealers, sex fiends, cold-blooded killers, corrupt politicians and several other varieties of villain.

Mr. Parker wrote the Spenser novels in the first person, employing the blunt, masculine prose style that is often described as Hemingwayesque. But his writing also seems self-aware, even tongue-in-cheek, as though he recognized how well worn such a path was. And his dialogue was especially arch, giving Spenser an air of someone who takes very few things seriously and raises an eyebrow at everything else. Mr. Parker’s regular readers became familiar with the things that provoke Spenser’s suspicion: showy glamour, ostentatious wealth, self-aggrandizement, fern bars, fancy sports clubs and any kind of haughtiness or presumption.

Spenser is, in other words, what Marlowe might have been in a more modern world (and living in Boston rather than Los Angeles). Unsurprisingly, Mr. Parker considered Chandler one of the great American writers of the 20th century. (He audaciously finished an incomplete Chandler manuscript, “Poodle Springs”). And he has been often cited by critics and other mystery writers as the guy who sprung the Chandleresque detective free from the age of noir.

“I read Parker’s Spenser series in college,” the best-selling writer Harlan Coben said in a 2007 interview with The Atlantic Monthly. “When it comes to detective novels, 90 percent of us admit he’s an influence, and the rest of us lie about it.”

Robert Brown Parker was a large man of large appetites that were nonetheless satisfied with relative ease. He was as unpretentious and self-aware as Spenser, his agent, Ms. Brann said.

“All he needed to be happy was his family and writing,” she said. “There were always wonderful things in his refrigerator. People were always after him to do cookbooks.” She paused.

“He loved doughnuts,” she said.

He was born in Springfield, Mass., on Sept. 17, 1932, the only child of working-class parents. His father worked for the telephone company. He attended Colby College in Maine, graduating in 1954, then served in the Army in Korea, after the Korean War. He earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in literature from Boston University, and taught there as well as at Northeastern University.

His novels were adapted many times for television and the movies. From 1985 to 1988 Spenser appeared as the central character of a television series, “Spenser: For Hire,” starring Robert Urich. The Jesse Stone series was the inspiration for seven television movies starring Tom Selleck, including one to be broadcast in the spring. “Appaloosa,” a western starring Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen made from Mr. Parker’s novel of the same name, was released in 2008.

Mr. Parker’s editor, Chris Pepe, said that in addition to the new Jesse Stone novel, Putnam would publish a new western by Mr. Parker in the spring; two additional Spenser novels are in production but unscheduled, she said.

Mr. Parker first met his wife, Joan, at a birthday party when they were 3 years old, or so the story goes; in any case, they encountered each other at Colby and married in 1956. Much of the relationship between Spenser and Susan — including a period of trouble when they are apart — reflects Mr. Parker’s with his wife. She survives him, as do two sons, David, of Manhattan, and Daniel, of Los Angeles.

Most of his books were dedicated to his wife.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: January 22, 2010
An obituary on Wednesday about the mystery writer Robert B. Parker, using information from his publisher, referred incorrectly to his books’ dedications. Most of his books — not all — were dedicated to his wife, Joan.


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized


If many of you are avid readers like myself, you will be happy to know that you can download free Kindle books from

Per the following New York Times article, many of these books are from lesser-known authors, but, the books are complete editions, free to the public (if you have a Kindle, or have downloaded Amazon’s PC Kindle), and many of them are great reads. Many of the books are in the public domain, but, so many more are by still living authors.

So, if you love to read, and definitely love some freebies, please check out these up-and-coming authors (and some already established authors).

You’ll be glad you did.



With Kindle, the Bestsellers Don’t Need to Sell


Chad Batka for The New York Times

Maureen Johnson, a writer whose free e-book, “Suite Scarlett,” went as high as No. 3 on Amazon’s Kindle best-seller list.

Published: January 22, 2010
Here’s a riddle: How do you make your book a best seller on the Kindle
Alessandra Montalto/The New York Times

Two novels by Ms. Johnson. “Scarlett Fever,” the latest in a series for young adults, is due out in hardcover on Feb. 1.

Answer: Give copies away.

That’s right. More than half of the “best-selling” e-books on the Kindle,’s e-reader, are available at no charge.

Although some of the titles are digital versions of books in the public domain — like Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” — many are by authors still trying to make a living from their work.

Earlier this week, for example, the No. 1 and 2 spots on Kindle’s best-seller list were taken by “Cape Refuge” and “Southern Storm,” both novels by Terri Blackstock, a writer of Christian thrillers. The Kindle price: $0. Until the end of the month, Ms. Blackstock’s publisher, Zondervan, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, is offering readers the opportunity to download the books free to the Kindle or to the Kindle apps on their iPhone or in Windows.

Publishers including Harlequin, Random House and Scholastic are offering free versions of digital books to Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other e-retailers, as well as on author Web sites, as a way of allowing readers to try out the work of unfamiliar writers. The hope is that customers who like what they read will go on to obtain another title for money.

“Giving people a sample is a great way to hook people and encourage them to buy more,” said Suzanne Murphy, group publisher of Scholastic Trade Publishing, which offered free downloads of “Suite Scarlett,” a young-adult novel by Maureen Johnson, for three weeks in the hopes of building buzz for the next book in the series, “Scarlett Fever,” out in hardcover on Feb. 1. The book went as high as No. 3 on Amazon’s Kindle best-seller list.

The digital giveaways come as publishers are panicking about price pressure on e-books in general. Amazon and other online retailers have set $9.99 as the putative e-book price for new releases and best sellers, and publishers worry that such pricing ultimately creates expectations among consumers that new books are no longer worth, say, $25 (the average list price of a new hardcover), or even $13 (a standard list price for trade paperbacks).

Some publishers have tried to take control of pricing by delaying the publication of certain e-books for several months after the books are made available in hardcover.

Executives at some houses said that given such actions, offering free content amounts to industry hypocrisy.

“At a time when we are resisting the $9.99 price of e-books,” said David Young, chief executive of Hachette Book Group, the publisher of James Patterson and Stephenie Meyer, “it is illogical to give books away for free.”

Similarly, a spokesman for Penguin Group USA said: “Penguin has not and does not give away books for free. We feel that the value of the book is too important to do that.”

But some publishers regard free digital books as purely promotional, in the same vein as the free galleys they distribute to booksellers and reviewers to create attention and word-of-mouth buzz for an author.

“Most people purchase stuff because somebody has recommended the title,” said Steve Sammons, executive vice president for consumer engagement at Zondervan.

Neither Amazon nor other e-book retailers make any money on these giveaways either. But it is a way of luring customers to their e-reading devices.

Free e-books are also a way of distinguishing a less-well-known author from the marketing juggernauts of the most popular books.

“You have to show people things because there’s a lot of competition,” said Ms. Johnson, the author of “Suite Scarlett” and seven other books. “If they go into a store, they are going to see 4,000 books with Robert Pattinson’s face on it,” she added, referring to movie-tie-in versions of Ms. Meyer’s “Twilight” series. “Then my book will be buried under them.”

And if a free e-book rises to the top of the Kindle best-seller list — or Barnes & Noble’s ranked list of free e-books — it automatically gives an author more visibility.

“When you push to No. 1 of any best-seller list, that in itself seems to beget publicity,” said Brandilyn Collins, who writes suspense novels with Christian themes and whose novels “Exposure” and “Dark Pursuit” were No. 1 and 2 on the Kindle best-seller list earlier this month and remain in the Top 10 (and are still available free).

Most of the giveaways are of older titles by an author, with the idea that reading them will convert new fans who will go on to buy more recently released books. Even if only a small percentage of those who download a free book end up buying another one, “that’s all found money,” said Steve Oates, vice president for marketing at Bethany House Publishers, a unit of Baker Publishing Group, whose authors Beverly Lewis and Tracie Peterson had free titles on the Kindle best-seller list this week.

Samhain Publishing, a publisher of romance and erotica, has offered a free e-book title every two weeks for more than a year. Christina Brashear, its publisher, said that the giveaways have led to a noticeable bump in sales.

In October, the most recent month for which she has statistics, Ms. Brashear said Samhain offered free digital versions of “Giving Chase,” a romance novel by Lauren Dane, leading to 26,897 downloads. 


Times Topics: Kindle

But paid purchases of some of Ms. Dane’s other novels jumped exponentially. Her earlier novel “Chased,” which sold 97 copies in September, sold 2,666 digital units in October, and another of her previous books, “Taking Chase,” which sold 119 copies in September, sold 3,279 in the month in which a free download was available.

With e-books still representing about 5 percent of the total book market, data on the effect of digital giveaways is still inconclusive. Brian O’Leary, a principal at Magellan Media Consulting Partners, which advises publishers, said that while it appeared that free downloads led to an uptick in actual book buying, there was a risk that free reading could eventually “supplant paid reading.”

Indeed, said Brian Murray, chief executive of HarperCollins, “free is not a business model.”

Authors are torn between wanting to experiment with new formats and wanting to protect their income. Charlie Huston, the author of the Henry Thompson crime trilogy and a series of books about Joe Pitt, a vampire detective, said that “the part of me that grew up in a union household” still feels as if he were occasionally undermining himself by sanctioning digital giveaways by his publisher, Random House.

But, he said, “I guess my attitude right now is that I can be afraid of what’s coming or I can try and aggressively embrace it in some form.”

And in some cases, the free e-books work. Pamela Deron, a 29-year-old administrative assistant in Florida, said she downloaded a free edition of “Already Dead,” the first in the Joe Pitt series, onto her Kindle this month.

“There are so many authors out there that fall into obscurity,” Ms. Deron wrote in an e-mail message. “Simply no one knows of them, and some readers are hesitant buying an author they never heard of. Free books allow you to experience the writer as a whole, not just a small tidbit.”

She added: “Fifty dollars later, I have the entire Joe Pitt series.”



Filed under Uncategorized




Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Beagy Zielinski, a stylist in New York, says a relationship did not work out because her boyfriend was insecure about her success.

Published: January 18, 2010

Beagy Zielinski is a German-born 28-year-old stylist who moved to New York to study fashion in 1995 and stayed. Just before Christmas, she broke up with her blue-collar boyfriend, who repaired Navy ships.

“He was extremely insecure about my career and how successful I am,” Ms. Zielinski said.

An analysis of census data to be released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center found that she and countless women like her are victims of a role reversal that is profoundly affecting the pool of potential marriage partners.

“Men now are increasingly likely to marry wives with more education and income than they have, and the reverse is true for women,” said Paul Fucito, spokesman for the Pew Center. “In recent decades, with the rise of well-paid working wives, the economic gains of marriage have been a greater benefit for men.”

The analysis examines Americans 30 to 44 years old, the first generation in which more women than men have college degrees. Women’s earnings have been increasing faster than men’s since the 1970s.

“We’ve known for some time that men need marriage more than women from the standpoint of physical and mental well-being,” said Stephanie Coontz, a professor at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., and research director for the Council on Contemporary Families, a research and advocacy group. “Now it is becoming increasingly important to their economic well-being as well.”

The education and income gap has grown even more in the latest recession, when men held about three in four of the jobs that were lost. The Census Bureau said Friday that among married couples with children, only the wife worked in 7 percent of the households last year, compared with 5 percent in 2007. The percentage rose to 12 percent from 9 percent for blacks, among whom the education and income gap by gender has typically been even greater.

“I’m not married, I would like to be married, and my friends are all in a similar situation,” said Dr. Rajalla Prewitt, a 38-year-old psychiatrist in New Jersey. “We’re having difficulty finding someone where there’s a meeting of the minds, where we can have the same goals and values.”

“Particularly, African-American men who are educated want a traditional home where they are the breadwinner,” said Dr. Prewitt, who is a black woman.

In 2007, the Pew report found, median household incomes of married men, married women and unmarried women were all about 60 percent higher than in 1970. But among unmarried men, median household income rose by only 16 percent. These days, men who marry typically gain another breadwinner.

In 1970, 28 percent of wives had husbands who were better educated, and 20 percent were married to men with less education. By 2007, the comparable figures were 19 percent and 28 percent. In 1970, 4 percent of husbands had wives who made more money; in 2007, 22 percent did.

College-educated wives are less likely to have a husband who is college-educated and in the highest income bracket than they were in 1970, and married women are less likely to have a husband who works.

“Among all married couples,” the report said, “wives contribute a growing share of the household income, and a rising share of those couples include a wife who earns more than her husband.”

While marriage rates have declined over all, women with college degrees are still more likely to marry today than less educated women.

But some women find that the dating pressures are intense. Syreeta McFadden, a 35-year-old Columbia and Sarah Lawrence graduate who is between jobs after working in real estate development, said: “With men of any ethnic group, it’s a little intimidating for them to encounter smart women. Money is tricky.

“But, I think for me, it comes down to compatibility,” Ms. McFadden said. “Can you grow with me? Or as my genius friend the textile designer says, she asks on first dates or meeting men in bars, ‘Do you have a passport and a library card?’ ”

Elaine Richardson, who is in her 50s, is divorced and owns a health care consulting firm in Westchester, said that men “call you high maintenance if you look like you don’t need anyone to take care of you.”

Professor Coontz at Evergreen State recalled that from the late 19th century through the 1940s, it was not uncommon for a woman to finish high school or go to college and marry a man who made more but was less educated.

“This changed in the 1950s to 1970, as financial returns to education really mounted for men, but not for women,” Professor Coontz said.

The latest shift, Professor Coontz said, “is truly a sea change in gender relations within marriage.”

“Many people have worried that men’s increasing dependence on their wives, especially if they are laid off, might lead to the kind of backlash against women workers that happened in the Great Depression,” Professor Coontz said. “But I think that wives’ work has become so normative that this is unlikely.”

Ms. Zielinski, the fashion stylist, said her best friend, a man, told her once: “ ‘You are confident, have good credit, own your own business, travel around the world and are self-sufficient. What man is going to want you?’ He laughed, but I found that pretty depressing.”



Okay, here are my two questions on this issue:

-First, why are so many males eschewing higher education? Certainly it cannot be that males have a learning block when it comes to secondary education which often can lift one’s educational and economic status, which is what many higher educations can do;

-Second, these men who do marry up——-those who stay at home/work parttime/are between jobs, or are unemployed, while the wife goes out to bring home the bacon:  do those men do the laundry, dishes, cook breakfast/lunch/dinner, carpool the children to school and extracurricular activities; pay the bills, go to school to talk to the teacher, vacuum, wash the walls, get their hair and/or beards or moustaches done whilst wifey is out slaying economic dragons in the workforce?

Do those men carry their load of the domestic responsibilities—–or do they just lay around like Budweiser/Schlitz Malt Liquor/Johnny Walker Red-Black drinking, chocolate pretzel-eating couch potatoes?

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized


In a throwback to the dark ages, to greed, to the ultimate contempt shown to United States citizens, the U.S. Supreme court in a 5-4 ruling took the side of corporations in general and presidential elections on donations made for candidates running for office. The SCOTUS showed whom they slavishly worshipped, and with this ruling big business can now run roughshod over citizens who contribute their money to candidates they want to see elected, citizens who in no way can compete against the big bucks of corporations, conglomerations and mega-merged corporate entities. Now that corporations have been released from the long-standing ban on spending huge amounts of money on the candidates of their choice, there will be blood.

The blood of ordinary citizens sacrificed on the altar of corporate greed and SCOTUS favouritism.

Not since the theft of votes in Florida in 2000, and the theft of votes in Ohio in 2004, with SCOTUS siding against Gore in favor of Bush, has the SCOTUS shown such ass-kissing.

Such a court rendering will have major impacts on this year’s 2010 midterm elections, not to mention President Obama’s 2012 run for office, as well as the future campaigns of candidates all across America.

Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission—-what a joke. These citizens are nothing but a conservative nonprofit corporation. They have with the SCOTUS ruling, and blessings, been given carte blanch to destroy the democracy of election campaign contributions in America.

America has been thrown back into the days of the J. Pierpoint Morgans, the Swift-Armours, the Henry Fricks, the Marshall Fields, and many others of their ilk, if Congress spinelssly sits back and does not fight this ruling. Democrat Congress will more likely wring its hands, sit on them, and do nothing, while rapacious Republican Congress will shout with glee that it now has more reinforcements to help in grinding the interests of the average citizen into the dust. The super-rich can corrupt politics, because they have the money and the power to do so. If they cannot bribe already in office politicians, they now have the opportunity to spend large amounts of money to elect those candidates they carry in their pockets. With the SCOTUS blessing, corporations can outspend those who do not have millions for 30-second advertising spots on television, radio and other forms of media, driving up the cost of advertising, a constriction on the free speech of those who cannot compete with the megabucks of corporations.

As for free speech.

Free speech, like hell.

Regulating corporation spending is not an infringment on free speech.

You cannot equate the speech of a for-profit corporation with that of an individual human being, and to say that they are one-and-the-same is the ultimate insult.

But, getting into bed with the robber barons, the economic princes, is whoredom of the worst kind, and the SCOTUS has sunk to a mean and hellish low with this hateful ruling.



Published: January 21, 2010
WASHINGTON — Overruling two important precedents about the First Amendment rights of corporations, a bitterly divided Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections.
Reuters, left; Bloomberg

Justices Anthony M. Kennedy and John Paul Stevens, right.


Lobbyists Get Potent Weapon in Campaign Ruling (January 22, 2010)

Corporate Money and American Politics

Room for DebateWill the Supreme Court’s campaign finance decision damage democracy?


January 21, 2010    

Luke Sharrett/The New York Times

Dave Bossie, President of Citizens United, spoke to the press following Thursday’s Supreme Court decision.

January 21, 2010    

Lauren Victoria Burke/Associated Press

Senator Charles E. Schumer, left, accompanied by Rep. Chris Van Hollen, spoke about campaign finance reform after the Supreme Court ruling on Thursday.


The 5-to-4 decision was a vindication, the majority said, of the First Amendment’s most basic free speech principle — that the government has no business regulating political speech. The dissenters said that allowing corporate money to flood the political marketplace would corrupt democracy.

The ruling represented a sharp doctrinal shift, and it will have major political and practical consequences. Specialists in campaign finance law said they expected the decision to reshape the way elections were conducted. Though the decision does not directly address them, its logic also applies to the labor unions that are often at political odds with big business.

The decision will be felt most immediately in the coming midterm elections, given that it comes just two days after Democrats lost a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and as popular discontent over government bailouts and corporate bonuses continues to boil.

President Obama called it “a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans.”

The justices in the majority brushed aside warnings about what might follow from their ruling in favor of a formal but fervent embrace of a broad interpretation of free speech rights.

“If the First Amendment has any force,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority, which included the four members of the court’s conservative wing, “it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech.”

The ruling, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, No. 08-205, overruled two precedents: Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, a 1990 decision that upheld restrictions on corporate spending to support or oppose political candidates, and McConnell v. Federal Election Commission, a 2003 decision that upheld the part of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 that restricted campaign spending by corporations and unions.

The 2002 law, usually called McCain-Feingold, banned the broadcast, cable or satellite transmission of “electioneering communications” paid for by corporations or labor unions from their general funds in the 30 days before a presidential primary and in the 60 days before the general elections.

The law, as narrowed by a 2007 Supreme Court decision, applied to communications “susceptible to no reasonable interpretation other than as an appeal to vote for or against a specific candidate.”

The five opinions in Thursday’s decision ran to more than 180 pages, with Justice John Paul Stevens contributing a passionate 90-page dissent. In sometimes halting fashion, he summarized it for some 20 minutes from the bench on Thursday morning.

Joined by the other three members of the court’s liberal wing, Justice Stevens said the majority had committed a grave error in treating corporate speech the same as that of human beings.

Eight of the justices did agree that Congress can require corporations to disclose their spending and to run disclaimers with their advertisements, at least in the absence of proof of threats or reprisals. “Disclosure permits citizens and shareholders to react to the speech of corporate entities in a proper way,” Justice Kennedy wrote. Justice Clarence Thomas dissented on this point.

The majority opinion did not disturb bans on direct contributions to candidates, but the two sides disagreed about whether independent expenditures came close to amounting to the same thing.

“The difference between selling a vote and selling access is a matter of degree, not kind,” Justice Stevens wrote. “And selling access is not qualitatively different from giving special preference to those who spent money on one’s behalf.”

Justice Kennedy responded that “by definition, an independent expenditure is political speech presented to the electorate that is not coordinated with a candidate.”

The case had unlikely origins. It involved a documentary called “Hillary: The Movie,” a 90-minute stew of caustic political commentary and advocacy journalism. It was produced by Citizens United, a conservative nonprofit corporation, and was released during the Democratic presidential primaries in 2008.

Citizens United lost a suit that year against the Federal Election Commission, and scuttled plans to show the film on a cable video-on-demand service and to broadcast television advertisements for it. But the film was shown in theaters in six cities, and it remains available on DVD and the Internet.

The majority cited a score of decisions recognizing the First Amendment rights of corporations, and Justice Stevens acknowledged that “we have long since held that corporations are covered by the First Amendment.”

But Justice Stevens defended the restrictions struck down on Thursday as modest and sensible. Even before the decision, he said, corporations could act through their political action committees or outside the specified time windows.

The McCain-Feingold law contains an exception for broadcast news reports, commentaries and editorials. But that is, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote in a concurrence joined by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., “simply a matter of legislative grace.”

Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion said that there was no principled way to distinguish between media corporations and other corporations and that the dissent’s theory would allow Congress to suppress political speech in newspapers, on television news programs, in books and on blogs.

Justice Stevens responded that people who invest in media corporations know “that media outlets may seek to influence elections.” He added in a footnote that lawmakers might now want to consider requiring corporations to disclose how they intended to spend shareholders’ money or to put such spending to a shareholder vote.

On its central point, Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion was joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Alito, Thomas and Antonin Scalia. Justice Stevens’s dissent was joined by Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor.

When the case was first argued last March, it seemed a curiosity likely to be decided on narrow grounds. The court could have ruled that Citizens United was not the sort of group to which the McCain-Feingold law was meant to apply, or that the law did not mean to address 90-minute documentaries, or that video-on-demand technologies were not regulated by the law. Thursday’s decision rejected those alternatives.

Instead, it addressed the questions it proposed to the parties in June when it set down the case for an unusual second argument in September, those of whether Austin and McConnell should be overruled. The answer, the court ruled Thursday, was yes.

“When government seeks to use its full power, including the criminal law, to command where a person may get his or her information or what distrusted source he or she may not hear, it uses censorship to control thought,” Justice Kennedy wrote. “This is unlawful. The First Amendment confirms the freedom to think for ourselves.”



Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized