Friday Reads: Let’s talk Turkey!Posted: November 29, 2013
So, it’s Black Friday and I am thankfully not part of any of the national crass consumerism season so I am home catching up with stuff. I thought I’d try to find some eclectic things to read about today.
A friends sent me this link to the National Geographic Magazine that helped sponsor and document a dig in Nepal. Was the Buddha actually born much earlier than thought? Archeologists have uncovered a shrine-within-the shrine at the Buddha’s supposed birth place.
The excavations showed that older wooden structures lay beneath the walls of the later brick Buddhist shrine. The layout of that more recent shrine duplicates the layout of the earlier wooden structures, pointing to a continuity of Buddhist worship at the site, Coningham says.
“The big debate has been about when the Buddha lived and now we have a shrine structure pointing to the sixth century B.C.,” Coningham says. The team used two kinds of scientific dating to find the age of the early shrine.
Outside scholars applauded the discovery but cautioned against too hastily accepting the site as the oldest discovered Buddhist shrine without more analysis.
“Archaeologists love claiming that they have found the earliest or the oldest of something,” says archaeologist Ruth Young of the United Kingdom’s University of Leicester in an email message.
They’re not certain if it is an older Buddhist shrine or a shrine of an earlier belief system that then became a Buddhist shrine. Either way, it’s fascinating.
Salinger scholar Kenneth Slawenski, author of J.D. Salinger: A Life confirms that these are truly Salinger’s unpublished stories, having read the previously guarded manuscripts. In an email to BuzzFeed, he wrote “While I do quibble with the ethics (or lack of ethics) in posting the Salinger stories, they look to be true transcripts of the originals and match my own copies.”
On Reddit, the original uploader claims that the source is this eBay auction, which appears to be a book published illegally — the title page reads oxymoronically, “the three stories in this book remain unpublished.” PJ Vogt, who is fairly sure that “The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls” is the same story he read at Princeton, confirms that the images on the leak don’t appear to be that same manuscript. “My memory is that Princeton’s copy looked like a submission — typed out pages, maybe even double-spaced. These seem too laid out to be from that collection.”
In an article published on Monday, The Times’s Patrick McGeehan describeda line snaking down Fulton Street in Brooklyn last week, with people waiting to enter a food pantry run by the Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger. The line was not an anomaly. Demand at all of New York City’s food pantries and soup kitchens has spiked since federal food stamps were cut on Nov. 1. The cut — which affects nearly all of the nation’s 48 million food stamp recipients — amounts to a loss of $29 a month for a New York City family of three. On the shoestring meal budgets of food stamp recipients, that’s enough for some 20 individual meals, according to the New York City Coalition Against Hunger.
The food stamp cuts are occurring even though need is still high and opportunity low. In a report released today, the Coalition estimates that one-sixth of the city’s residents and one-fifth of its children live in homes without enough to eat. Those numbers have not improved over the past three years. The lack of economic recovery for low income New Yorkers is at odds with gains at the top of the income ladder, reflected in soaring real estate prices, rising stock prices and big Wall Street bonuses.
And there are more food-stamp cuts to come. House Republicans have proposed to cut the program by $40 billion over 10 years in the pending farm bill; the Senate has proposed a $4 billion reduction. With Congress framing its task not as whether to cut the program, but how much, is there any doubt that food lines will soon be getting longer — and children hungrier?
A small, battered book sold for over $14 million last week. It is a small bit of American History.
It is yellowed, battered and unassuming; but on November 26th the Bay Psalm Book, the first book printed in what would become the United States, sold at a Sotheby’s auction for a record $14.2m. The book was published in 1640, using a press shipped from England. It was clearly well used and (from its marginal marks) well studied. Ten other copies survive; this was the first to appear at auction since 1947. The seller was the Old South Church in Boston, which also owns another copy.
I’m worried about the outcome of the Hobby Lobby Lawsuit that’s all dressed up in first amendment rights for corporations. It just doesn’t pass the smell taste to me on any level. Here’s an interesting op-ed read with that in mind.
The religiously committed owners of the companies whose cases the court will decide – Hobby Lobby employs 13,000 people in its 500-store chain – say they object not to all birth control but only to the methods they believe act after fertilization to prevent a fertilized egg from implanting and continuing to develop. This belief is incorrect, as a brief filed by a coalition of leading medical authorities demonstrates; although there was once some confusion on this point, the disputed hormonal methods are now understood to prevent fertilization from occurring in the first place. European medical authoritiesrecently reached the same conclusion and have changed the label on an emergency contraception pill to say it “cannot stop a fertilized egg from attaching to the womb.”
There is something deeper going on in these cases than a dispute over the line that separates a contraceptive from an “abortifacient.” What drives the anger about this regulation is that, as the opponents see it, the government is putting its thumb on the scale in favor of birth control, of sex without consequences. In a revealing article published earlier this year in the Villanova Law Review, Helen Alvaré, a law professor and longtime adviser to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, describes the contraception mandate as the culmination of what she calls the “contraceptive project.”
Professor Alvaré writes: “The churches opposing the mandate hold, and teach women and men to maintain, an understanding of the sacredness of sexual intercourse, and its intrinsic connection with the procreating of new, vulnerable human life.” The government policy of covering contraception, she says, would have the effect in law of characterizing these teachings “as violations of women’s freedom and equality.”
As Professor Alvaré surely knows, nearly all Catholic women use birth control at some time during their reproductive lives and they have abortions at the same rate as other American women. And her article acknowledges a recent and widely reported study that found that the abortion rate dropped by as much as two-thirds among women in St. Louis, most of them poor, who volunteered for a two-year project in which they received free birth control; the women were able to choose the highly reliable long-lasting contraceptives that are priced out of reach for many women who will now be able to receive them under the Affordable Care Act.
To the extent that the “contraceptive project” changes anything on the American reproductive landscape, it will be to reduce the rate of unintended pregnancy and abortion. The objection, then, has to be not to the mandate’s actual impact but to its expressive nature, its implicit endorsement of a value system that says it’s perfectly O.K. to have sex without the goal of making a baby.
Well, that’s a few reads to get your the long weekend going! What’s on your reading and blogging list today?