What Makes a Family?

I was researching something I was writing today when I came across a compelling article by Pearl S. Buck  “The Children Waiting: The Shocking Scandal of Adoption,” published in the September 1955 issue of Woman’s Home Companion.  1955 was after World War II and the Korean War.  During both those conflicts there had been many American troops stationed in Asia who, as the euphemism put it, “had needs.”  The needs of the Asian women who satisfied them mattered less, and many were left behind with child.

At that time adoptions were handled largely by sectarian religious institutions and the children were placed into families that “matched” them in terms of race, religion, and other characteristics.  This meant a lot of children, especially those of mixed race parents, were simply not adoptable.  They spent their lives in institutions until they could fend for themselves.

Buck saw the injustice of this.  Moreover, having adopted several children herself, she new that not all potential parents shopped for children as if they were furniture or shoes.

Two babies came [to me] from adoption agencies, where they were considered unadoptable because it was difficult to find adoptive parents to “match” them. I was sure that there must be good families, matching or not, who could love these babies and indeed there were. . . .

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Greenbrier River Trail, Come Ride With Me

A clip filmed with my iPhone riding a short stretch of the Greenbrier River Trail in Hillsboro, West Virginia. The clip tells you a little about the trail and the experience of riding it.

Yesterday I biked about 15 miles of the Trail, as you can see mapped out on the site below.   I biked out about 7 1/4 miles then most of the way back.  Then I stopped MapMyRide and continued for the remainder narrated in the video.

The clip is a rough cut.  I’ll do a proper edit eventually, probably collecting clips from different parts of the trail.  But I have only recently started my job here at the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace and we have a lot to do, so for now, rough cuts it is.
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An Exciting Three Weeks So Far!

I could leave here tomorrow and this will already have been an extraordinary experience.  I’m not planning on it, mind you.  I’ve only been here three weeks and have barely gotten started on the project that is my main reason for being here, and I’m really just getting settled in.

Nonetheless, it’s been an exciting three weeks.  I’ve heard some amazing bluegrass music played live, nearly run over a black bear, spent some time riding along one the best bike trails on the East Coast, seen a stunning display of fall foliage, been visited on my front lawn by a family of deer in the wee hours of the morning,  learned that Pearl Buck was a much more fascinating person than I ever gave her credit for, met some really interesting people, and hopefully made a friend or two.  That’s just some of the highlights of these three weeks.

I’m no stranger to the countryside.  Between the Boy Scouts and family trips, we did a lot of camping when I was growing up.  Yet I’ve been astonished by the wildlife I’ve seen in just a few weeks, ranging from the wide variety of birds, to small mammals and arachnids.
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New Albums by Todd Snider and Hayes Carll

KMAG YOYO releases February 15th

If you’re one of those people who enjoys songs that tell stories, the first couple weeks of February, roughly, are a good time for you. There are two new releases by artists that are among our greatest musical storytellers coming out during the first half of the month.

On February 5 Todd Snider released a CD and DVD called “Live: The Storyteller,” and on Tuesday Hayes Carll releases his first album since 2008’s Trouble in Mind. Both artists are part of the tradition of America great singer-songwriters. But they also hail from an older tradition, going back centuries and transcending cultures, that of the troubadour who set their tales to music and, as Snider puts it, travel the land “playing them to whoever will listen.”

If you are not familiar with Todd Snider, his live albums are an excellent introduction. His studio albums give a good sense of his witty lyrics and catchy tunes, but his live shows are what really intrigues. To quote the Blurt review by John B. Moore, Snider is “an Americana poet, storyteller and barstool comedian.”

An Oregon native and East Nashville resident, he’s definitely a bit of a hippy folk singer. After all, most of the time he comes out on stage with an acoustic guitar, barefoot, in loose fitting old jeans and shirt or sweater, to sing about traveling across America and the people you meet along the way, with a fair amount of pacifist politics thrown in for good measure.

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12 Days of (War 0n?) Christmas

The Twelve Days of Christmas

It’s 12 Days of Christmas Season. That’s the time of marketing extravaganza’s referencing that very well known carol, “The Twelve Days of Christmas” in which the the suitor gives his true love strange things like turtle doves, golden rings enough for each finger of one hand, ladies dancing, pipers and, of course, that partridge in the pear tree.
Share The 12 Days Of Christmas by Gregg Smith Singers

Manufacturers, retailers and companies and service providers promote their businesses by sponsoring talk show giveaways for 12 days on Ellen or Oprah or by special giveaways and sales each day for 12 days at their stores or online as is being done by Starbucks and AT&T. It comes anytime before Christmas, depending on the broadcast schedule of the show and when the company needs sales.
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Academic Freedom Media Review, October 23-29, 2010

The Scholars at Risk media review seeks to raise awareness about academic freedom issues in the news. Subscription information and archived media reviews are available here. The views and opinions expressed in these articles are not necessarily those of Scholars at Risk.

Warning on Bologna
Hannah Fearn, Inside Higher Ed, 10/29

Iranian Scholar Accused of Acting against National Security
Network for Education and Academic Rights (NEAR), 10/28

Students say: new report recommending specialised universities would spell disaster for accessible education and academic choice
CNW, 10/27

Scholars at Risk calls for letters on behalf of Svyatoslav Bobyshev and Yevgeny Afanasyev, Russian scholars held in pretrial detention since March
Scholars at Risk, 10/26

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Observations from a Late Night Pizza Joint

Parents always instill in their children a fear of staying out to late and it tends to stick. We sense danger on the streets at night. But The best reason for not staying out too late is the risk to your psyche. Inevitably, after a certain hour you, you are guaranteed to bear witness to such pain and tragedy that sinks your mood. Its there all day, but it’s diluted by the stream of daily life and the masses going about their day. But late at night it’s laid bare, moving against what is otherwise the still life of the city skyline at night. There’s the teary-eyed 30 something being consoled by a friend because a relationship died that night. There’s the revelers who no longer seem so happy and gay, looking for food to sober up enough to find their way home. There’s the ones who are still cruising, desperate enough to not go home alone that they’ll take almost anyone, no matter how ill-advised it may be. There’s the stoners an partiers who seem more determined to continue their intoxication, even though the euphoria of it ended hours ago. Most sadly, there are those who have no home, already asleep on sidewalks, or trying to sat in climate controlled rooms as long as they possibly can. No one really seems happy. Only the group of friends having a conversation about some mundane topic seems reasonably content.

The night is beautiful. The lights of the cityscape, the stars in the sky, and a whole different soundscape from that of the day. It’s quieter, but the city always hums. At night you can hear those noises we miss. But the city at night can, indeed, be dangerous. And if you have a capacity for empathy, it can also break your heart!