Century Marks

Century Marks

Gays and the fighting Irish

The University of Notre Dame has agreed to create a gay-straight alliance student organization. The move comes in response to a call for greater on-campus resources for gay and lesbian students. But the school has rejected the recommendation from its office of student affairs that sexual orientation be added to the university’s statement on nondiscrimination (InsideHigherEd.com, December 6).

Bricks, mortar and books

When the two bookstores in Nashville, Tennessee, shut down, writer Ann Patchett and a friend cooked up the idea of starting an independent bookstore. People scoffed at the idea, saying that there is no future for bookstores—and perhaps not for books in a digital world. Patchett knew, however, that the bookstores that had closed had been profitable. They closed because of actions by their parent companies. “People still want books,” Patchett said. “I’ve got the numbers to prove it.” She said she hadn’t counted on one benefit of starting a bookstore: “I could talk strangers into reading books that I love” (Atlantic, December).


Blake Page decided to quit the U.S. Military Academy only six months before graduation because he said he could no longer be part of a culture that promoted prayer and religious activities. In a Huffington Post column, Page charged that prayers were routinely included at mandatory school events and that nonreligious cadets were jokingly referred to as heathen (Chris­tian Science Monitor, December 7).


Social scientists from University of Southern California, the University of Virginia and New York University investigated the moral stereotypes that political liberals and conservatives have of each other. Not surprisingly, they discovered that liberals and conservatives tend to exaggerate the tendencies of their polar opposites. Each extreme tends to exaggerate their own moral commitments. Surprisingly, their study showed that liberals are less accurate in describing both themselves and their conservative opposites than conservatives are. Liberals, for example, tended to underemphasize conservatives’ commitment to the protection and fair treatment of individuals (PLOS One, December).

Fight is on

A community farm in Brooklyn’s Red Hook was doing all the earth-friendly things, according to Naomi Klein. But when Hurricane Sandy hit, the land was flooded and the farm lost its entire fall harvest—and now it appears as though the land is contaminated. Klein makes the point that though we can do all the right things at the local level, if we don’t get at the source of our global climate issues, it can be for naught. Klein, who has teamed up with environmentalist and Century editor-at-large Bill McKibben, believes it is time for people to fight against the corporate forces that contribute to global warming. “Climate change is the human-rights struggle of our time,” Klein says, “and it’s too important to be left to the environmentalists alone” (Boston Phoenix, December 13).