An Obama Tribute to Mandela that Fell Flat in the Rain

I watched President Obama speaking live on television this morning from the Mandela tribute in the Soweto, South African rain, and I felt for him as he struggled against the weather, a bad public address system, and what seemed like a restless audience hoping for him to move faster through his 30-minute monologue so they could get on with their day:

To the people of South Africa — people of every race and every walk of life — the world thanks you for sharing Nelson Mandela with us,” the president said. “His struggle was your struggle. His triumph was your triumph. Your dignity and hope found expression in his life, and your freedom, your democracy is his cherished legacy.”

“It is hard to eulogize any man — to capture in words not just the facts and the dates that make a life, but the essential truth of a person — their private joys and sorrows; the quiet moments and unique qualities that illuminate someone’s soul,” Mr. Obama said. “How much harder to do so for a giant of history, who moved a nation toward justice, and in the process moved billions around the world.”

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The Promise Under a Jacaranda Tree

Michelle Carter wrote this article.

Kona coffee and chocolate croissant in hand, I strolled out of my favorite café and continued down Carrillo Street toward Laguna. A tan, two-story, building on the right, and salmon hued stucco structure on the left, were familiar landmarks. As I crossed the street, I readied myself for the office with a wall of glass where there always sat a man at a desk in a shirt and tie. I felt uneasy in this part of my walk because it seemed I was entering his space uninvited.

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The Buzzing Vuvuzela Debate

The 2010 World Cup is well under way and I am reminded of attending a game with my father in 1994. Sitting in a section of fans of the Italian team, we had a percussion instrument — I wish I could find its name but I have been unable to do so thusfar. It consisted of a couple of wooden mallets with cymbals on them that swung into a central mallet by shaking it. Plenty of people in the Italy section had them and we would yell and shake them hard, making a lot of noise.

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Saartjie Baartman: The Hottentot Venus

Saartjie Baartman was considered a South African sexual freak by Caucasian culture.  In 1810, when she was 20, she was convinced to leave her homeland for fame in England.  Her traditional Khoikhoi body type was considered freakish in Western Culture and she was put on sexual display.  Her bare breasts and genitals were open for the gaping.  She was given the nickname “Hottentot Venus” for her presumptive beauty, though in Khoikhoi, “hottentot” means “stutterer.”  Saartjie was dead at 25 and her genitals and brain were pickled for continued, public, display.

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Soap Operas and Public Health

We can learn a lot from television.  Sometimes the best teaching comes when presented in a dramatic form.  Soap Operas have been a stable of American television for fifty years and their very structure brings form to understanding.

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Meeting Dr. Ian Player

by Nancy McDaniel

How many of us are fortunate enough in our lives to meet someone who has been a true hero of ours? Not a known hero such as a parent who selflessly raised us safely and successfully. Not an unknown but “everyday” hero such as a firefighter who risks his or her life everyday to protect us, but a larger-than-life hero whose books are twinkling stars of words that light up the pages and whose accomplishments in the natural world make life better for all of us. Even for those of us who don’t even realize it.

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