Century Marks

Century Marks

Religious defense

A 14-year-old North Carolina girl was suspended by her high school because she refused to remove a stud from her nose. She and her mother contested the judgment, saying it was an infringement on her freedom of religion since they are part of the Church of Body Modification. Formed ten years ago in Arizona and incorporated in Pennsylvania in 2008, the church claims to promote growth in mind, body and soul through body modification. It has a national membership of about 3,500 (News Observer, September 11).

Did you know?

In the middle of the ninth century, during the reign of Abbasid Caliph Al-Mutawakkil, last ruler of the Umayyad dynasty, Christians were forced to wear distinctive yellow garb. This discriminatory practice oddly anticipated what would happen several centuries later when Christian societies in Europe subjected Jews to the same humiliation (Diarmaid MacCulloch, Christianity, Viking).

Word search

The first known concordance was of the Latin Vulgate Bible. It was compiled in the early 13th century by a Dominican cardinal, Hugh de St. Cher, with the help of 500 monks. The famous Cruden's Concordance of the King James Version was compiled by one man, the bookseller Alexander Cruden. He accomplished the task, but it took him more than a year working from seven in the morning to one in the afternoon. A task that once took years to accomplish can be done now in minutes with computers and a digitalized text (History Today, September).

Hope for the Gulf

The Gulf of Mexico region is awash in 4.9 million barrels of oil and thousands of gallons of chemical dispersants. Despite that, Van Jones, who has served as a green jobs adviser in the Obama White House, believes that the gulf and its shoreline can be restored. Natural methods should be used for absorbing the oil, including use of fungi that can absorb oil and chemicals. Green jobs utilizing renewable energy sources should be brought to the region. The mental health of people in the region must also be addressed: 30 percent of the people, including children, are suffering mild to severe psychological distress (Huffington Post, September 8).

Stratospheric pay

Corporate executives are feathering their own nests at the expense of their employees, according to a study by the Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies. Bosses at the 50 American companies that laid off the most people during the recession earned 42 percent more than their peers, they concluded. The worst case was Schering-Plough's Fred Hassan, who was paid $49.7 million, including a golden parachute payout of $33 million that he received when the drug company merged with Merck—a move that led to the loss of 16,000 jobs. The average leader of a Standard and Poor's 500 company earns 263 times more than the typical American worker (Guardian, September 1).