Century Marks

Century Marks

A law against that

Three activists from the Orlando Food Not Bombs organization were arrested for feeding about 40 people in an Orlando park. An ordinance requires groups to have a permit if they are feeding more than 25 people in a park, and only two permits can be granted each year per group and park. Orlando Food Not Bombs contested the ordinance in court, but it was upheld (News-Press, June 3).

Best-read cities

Cambridge, Massachusetts, is the best-read city in the country, according to an Amazon.com list based on cities' sales data since the beginning of the year. Cambridge residents also ordered the most nonfiction books. Boulder, Colo­rado, lived up to its reputation as a health-conscious city—its residents ordered the most books in the cooking, food and wine category. Florida is the only state with three cities in the top 20, including Miami (6), Gainesville (8) and Orlando (12). The top five are Cam­bridge; Alexandria, Virginia; Berkeley, California; Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Boulder.

Walking in their shoes

Volunteers at Trinity Episcopal Church in New Haven recently washed the feet of 40 homeless people. They also massaged and put lotion on the feet of these homeless people and gave them new socks and a $40 voucher toward new shoes. In some cases the condition of their feet indicated medical problems, such as diabetes, and a nurse was on hand to treat those problems. Homeless people on average walk 8.5 miles a day (New Haven Independent, April 23).

Good questions

"Is it fair that David Letterman makes 700 times more than a schoolteacher?" Michael Sandel, government professor at Harvard, asks his students that question in his popular course on justice. Sandel's lectures on justice, which can be accessed via the Internet, have given him nearly rock-star status in Asia. On a lecture tour in Japan, the free tickets to his talk that were distributed via a lottery were scalped online for as much as $500. Sandel began that lecture by asking, "Is ticket scalping fair or unfair?" Sandel believes a renewed interest in justice indicates that people are recognizing that economic values do not by themselves produce happiness or a good society (Thomas Friedman, New York Times, June 14).

Boxed in

St. Joseph Abbey near Covington, Louisiana, opened a woodshop in 2007 to sell handcrafted cypress caskets that are less expensive than caskets purchased at funeral homes. The abbey hoped the sales would finance medical and educational needs for more than 30 monks. The state Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors issued a cease-and-desist letter to the monks, but the abbey defied the demands and began selling the caskets anyway. Last August, the abbey filed suit, challenging a Louisiana statute that prohibits the sale of caskets by non­licensed funeral directors. Abbey representatives testified that it does not aspire to function as a funeral home by offering funeral services or embalming remains (RNS).