Century Marks

Century Marks

Woman of the year?

In late December, Verizon Wireless announced that it would charge customers a $2 fee for online or telephone payments. Molly Katchpole launched an online petition opposing this move. One day after the petition was launched, Verizon said it was withdrawing the fee. Katchpole started an online petition earlier in the year against Bank of America's $5 debit card fee. Bank of America reversed that action after Katchpole collected more than 300,000 signatures (New Mexico Business Weekly, December 30)

That’s life

John Dear SJ introduced the Gospel of Mark to teens in a confirmation class in a remote parish in New Mexico and asked them what they liked or didn't like about the text, what they thought made sense, what seemed crazy. "What is this 'kingdom of God'?" he asked. One student impatiently responded, "The kingdom of God is life." That seemed to Dear like an insight worthy of a Thomas Merton or a Thich Nhat Hanh. Yes, Dear thought to himself on his way home, God's reign offers fullness of life for everyone, friend and foe alike (Lazarus, Come Forth! Orbis).

Coming out

Some of the children of the wealthiest Americans have been involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement. One held a sign reading, "I have more money than I know what to do with. Tax me more." A sign held by twins read, "You would know our dad, if we told you who he was." Some of children of the 1 percent said it was hard to decide to get involved-it was almost like "coming out" (The Week, December 30–January 6).

Does God (particle) exist?

Scientists at the Geneva-based European Organization for Nuclear Research believe they are honing in on the so-called God particle, also known as the Higgs boson. Scientists hypothesize that this particle is what allows other particles to have mass. Researchers at the institute, known as CERN, are using the 27-kilometer Large Hadron Collider to try to create the conditions that existed after the Big Bang that formed the universe 13.7 billion years ago. Alternative explanations for the mechanism that allows particles to have mass are also being pursued. Scien­tists working on the Higgs boson say they'll search for another year. If it is not found by then, they will conclude that it doesn't exist (Washington Post, December 13).

Good pay for historian

Jonathan Zimmerman says the first thing he learned in graduate school about being a historian is that the field demands both rigor and humility: you must know what you're talking about—and when you don't, you need to admit it. These are not qualities that characterize Newt Gingrich, who has been leading in the polls as candidate for the Republican presidential campaign. Gingrich has a doctorate in history, but he never did the academic work necessary for gaining tenure at West Georgia College, where he taught before launching a political career. Gingrich has written over 20 books that use history, but most historians regard them as simplistic and partisan. He defends the work he did for Freddie Mac by saying that he was a historical consultant, for which some sources say he earned as much as $1.8 million. "Who knew my profession could be so lucrative?" asks Zimmerman (Chicago Tribune, December 1).