Century Marks

Century Marks

Books on wheels

Since homeless people have no address, they can't get a library card. Laura Moulton, a novelist, has started a mobile book service in Portland, Oregon, that takes books to the homeless. As part of Street Books (streetbooks.org), Moulton pulls a wagonload of books behind her bike, stopping at sites where the homeless congregate. She has established a checkout system, and she's found that her clients are good about returning books (Christian Science Monitor, August 10).

Prophet for the ages

The prophet Jeremiah was a failure in his time—he failed to save Jerusalem from destruction and he couldn't keep his contemporaries from rebelling against Babylon. Nevertheless, Jeremiah espoused three great truths, says Rabbi Mordecai Schreiber: that God is One, that we need to take personal responsibility for our actions and can't simply blame the group to which we belong, and that human effort is the way to redeem the world. Jeremiah was the source of the rabbinic concept, "One does not rely on miracles" (tikkun.org).

Just friends

According to the Sesame Workshop, the puppets Ernie and Bert are just friends and they will remain that. The producers of the children's TV program Sesame Street were responding to an online petition asking for the show to feature a gay wedding between Ernie and Bert as a way of encouraging acceptance of gays. The two characters have lived together at 123 Sesame Street since 1969. They share a bedroom but have single beds. "Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics, they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation," Sesame Workshop said on its official Facebook page (Reuters).

Rich difference

Social scientist Dacher Keltner has conducted numerous studies which lead him to conclude that rich people really are different from the rest of society: they are less empathetic, less altruistic and more selfish. He's found that people with low incomes are better able to decipher the emotions of people in photographs than are rich people. His claims have been contested, however, by social scientists who point to other studies showing different results. A study last year at Harvard and Duke indicated that regardless of income or political affiliation, Americans think income should be equally distributed. Rich people tended to think income is already equally distributed (MSNBC, August 10).

Seeker sensitive?

Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, withdrew from participation in Leadership Summit 2011 at Willow Creek Church in suburban Chicago, responding to an online petition targeting the church's stance toward gays. The petition claims that Willow Creek has "practiced dangerous conversion therapy to 'cure' people of their sexual orientation." Pastor Bill Hybels says the church isn't antigay but expects its people to uphold the principle that sex belongs only in a marriage between a man and a woman. The summit was broadcast to 40 nations by satellite (Toledo Blade, August 12).