Just in case: Virginia state legislators passed a bill preventing employers or insurance companies from placing microchips in humans against their will. Mark L. Cole, sponsor of the bill, was concerned that the devices could someday be the “mark of the beast” mentioned in the Book of Revelation. Says Cole: “My understanding—I’m not a theologian—but there’s a prophecy in the Bible that says you’ll have to receive a mark, or you can neither buy nor sell things in end times. Some people think these computer chips might be that mark” (Examiner, February 14).
Only a moment: When New York–based writer Edwidge Danticat was able to contact relatives in Haiti after the earthquake, she learned that one cousin had been killed in the collapse of a four-story building, another had an open gash on her head that was still bleeding, and a third had a broken back and could find no place to have it X-rayed. Crying over the phone, Danticat apologized to a cousin for not being with the family. “Don’t cry,” she said. “That’s life. . . . And life, like death, lasts only yon ti moman” (a little while) (New Yorker, February 1).
Handel this: Handel’s Messiah is most often sung during the Christmas season, but Handel intended it to be performed during Holy Week. In his lifetime the work was seldom sung in churches but was sung in playhouses, where opera was performed. When the influence of Puritans in 18th-century England led to the banning of operas during Lent, oratorios like the Messiah became a popular alternative form of entertainment (Frank Burch Brown in Interpretation, January).
Local bankers: Move Your Money is an online grassroots movement encouraging people to take their money out of banks that are “too big to fail.” It is appealing to people who are angry at big banks for predatory lending practices, for receiving government bailout money and for giving huge bonuses to their employees. Although some community banks have also failed, they typically are more conservative in the way they use their money and are often more connected to local businesses and needs (Move Your Money).
Up with religion: Religion is now the most popular theme studied by historians, according to a member survey by the American Historical Association. Culture had previously taken the top spot in surveys over the past 15 years. A decade ago only 2 percent of job openings and fellowships posted with the AHA listed religion among the desired specializations; last year, 10 percent listed religion (Inside Higher Ed, December 21).