Century Marks

Century Marks

Majors and marriage

When college students choose a major, they may also be choosing the pool of people from which they’ll find a spouse. Marrying someone with the same major is most common for theology and religion majors—21 percent married someone with the same major. Among science majors, the figure was 18 percent. Most likely to find a mate in the same field are those who represent a gender minority in that field, such as male nurses and female engineers (Wonkblog, Washington Post, July 10).

Perspective on race

In the aftermath of the Charleston shootings, Chad Williams, a professor of African and Afro-American studies at Brandeis University, put together an extensive bibliography on American race relations. The list includes sections on the history of the South, slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, the Confederate flag, white supremacy, race and religion, racism in the North, and the civil rights era.

Gay in Russia

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage sparked a renewed debate in Russia over gay rights. One Russian legislator suggested that Russia should block Facebook users’ ability to decorate their profile pictures with the rainbow flag of the gay rights movement.  Many Russians had added a rainbow image to their photos. Opponents immediately came up with a counter move, superimposing a Russian tricolor flag on the photos. One legislator suggested Russia should adopt the now defunct American policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Russian culture remains highly homophobic. Hardly any public figures have come out as gay. President Vladimir Putin signed a law in 2013 banning the promotion or display of homosexuality in front of minors (AFP).

Instrument of peace

As an act of resisting the violence in Iraq, Karim Wasfi has been playing his cello at the site of bomb explosions across Baghdad. Wasfi, conductor of the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra, says that “the other side chose to turn . . . every aspect of life in Iraq into a battle and into a war zone. I chose to turn every corner of Iraq into a spot for civility, beauty, and compassion.” A deadly explosion in his own upscale neighborhood nearly killed him. Videos of Wasfi playing in the rubble left by bombings can be seen on YouTube (NPR, June 8).

Wrong turn

As part of a National History Day competition, three Massachusetts high school students wrote a letter to James “Whitey” Bulger, the 85-year-old South Boston crime boss convicted of being involved in 11 murders. To their surprise, Bulger didn’t answer the questions the students asked him about his life but instead expressed regrets about his life of crime. “My life was wasted and spent foolishly,” he confessed, saying it brought shame on his family (Boston Globe, June 27).