Harper Lee’s ‘Go Set a Watchman’ analyzed by Dean DiPiero

WGNtv.com

Originally Posted: July 14, 2015

Dr. Tom DiPiero, Dean of Dedman College at Southern Methodist University answered some of the WGN Morning News Crew’s questions about the sequel to the American classic “To Kill a Mockingbird.” WATCH

Fred Wendorf, Henderson-Morrison Professor of Prehistory Emeritus, archaeology career spanned six decades

Midland Reporter Telegram

Originally Posted: July 15, 2015

Excavator of “Midland Man” site dies at age 90

DALLAS — Noted archaeologist Fred Wendorf — who excavated the so-called “Midland Man” site and who is credited with discoveries in Africa and the American Southwest — died in Dallas Wednesday following a long illness. He was 90.

Wendorf’s career as a field archaeologist spanned six decades and he spent four decades on the faculty of Southern Methodist University. He retired in 2003 as the Henderson-Morrison Professor of Prehistory Emeritus, according to a press release from SMU.

Wendorf was born July 31, 1924, in Terrell, and as a teenager developed an interest in archaeology while roaming the fields of Kaufman County in search of Native American artifacts. He earned a bachelor of arts in anthropology in 1948 from the University of Arizona and a doctorate from Harvard University in 1953. READ MORE

DNA From Kennewick Man Shows He Was Native American, Says Study With SMU Ties

KERA NEWS

Originally Posted: July 14, 2015

kennewick-man-SI

Nearly two decades after an ancient skeleton was discovered in Kennewick, Washington, scientists finally have a better idea about its hotly-debated origins. SMU anthropologist David Meltzer co-authored a recent study into what’s been dubbed the Kennewick Man. LISTEN HERE

Thomas DiPiero, Dedman College Dean, reviews author Harper Lee’s new book Go Set a Watchman ahead of its release this week

New York Post

Originally Posted: July 12, 2015

Forget the controversies – ‘Go Set a Watchman’ is worth reading
By Thomas DiPiero

It’s strange to think of Scout, eternally a 10-year-old desperado, as an adult. Strange to think that Jem is dead. Strange to think that “Go Set a Watchman,” the original draft of the book that became the classic “To Kill a Mockingbird,” exists at all.

And most of all, it’s strange to read that Atticus Finch, the moral compass and hero of “Mockingbird,” is a racist.

“Boycott the book!” some commentators cry. Should have never been published, other critics say.

But to me, Atticus’ complexity makes “Go Set a Watchman” worth reading. “Mockingbird” was written through the eyes of a child. “Watchman” is the voice of a clear-eyed adult. READ MORE

Edward Countryman, History, How Textbooks Can Teach Different Versions Of History

NPR

Originally Posted: July 13, 2015

This summer there’s been an intense debate surrounding the Confederate flag and the legacy of slavery in this country.

In Texas that debate revolves around new textbooks that 5 million students will use when the school year begins next month.

The question is, are students getting a full and accurate picture of the past?

Eleventh-grade U.S. history teacher Samantha Manchac is concerned about the new materials and is already drawing up her lesson plans for the coming year. She teaches at The High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, a public school in Houston.

The first lesson she says she’ll give her kids is how textbooks can tell different versions of history. “We are going to utilize these textbooks to some extent, but I also want you to be critical of the textbooks and not take this as the be-all and end-all of American history,” she imagines telling her new students.

She doesn’t want to rely solely on the brand-new texts because she says the guidelines for the books downplay some issues — like slavery — and skirt others — like Jim Crow laws.

She says it’s “definitely an attempt in many instances to whitewash our history, as opposed to exposing students to the reality of things and letting them make decisions for themselves.”

You might be wondering how Texas got these books in the first place, so here’s a quick history lesson:

In 2010 the Texas State Board of Education adopted new, more conservative learning standards.

Among the changes — how to teach the cause of the Civil War.

One side of the debate: Republican board member Patricia Hardy said, “States’ rights were the real issues behind the Civil War. Slavery was an after issue.”

On the other side: Lawrence Allen, a Democrat on the board: “Slavery and states’ rights.”

Ultimately the state voted to soften slavery’s role, among other controversial decisions, and these standards became the outline for publishers to sell books to the Texas market — the second-largest in the country.

The final materials were approved last fall after the state board did some examination and said the books get the job done.

Brian Belardi from McGraw-Hill Education, the publisher of some of the new material, agrees. “The history of the Civil War is complex and our textbook accurately presents the causes and events,” he said, adding that the Texas books will not be used for the company’s clients in other states.

History professor Edward Countryman isn’t so sure the materials do a good job.

“What bothered me is the huge disconnect between all that we’ve learned and what tends to go into the standard story as textbooks tell it,” says Countryman, who teaches at Southern Methodist University near Dallas and reviewed some of the new books.

He thinks the books should include more about slavery and race throughout U.S. history.

“It’s kind of like teaching physics and stopping at Newton without bringing in Einstein, and that sort of thing,” he says.

“The history of the United States is full of the good, the bad and the ugly, and often at the same time,” says Donna Bahorich, the current chairwoman of the Texas Board of Education.

While she admits the state standards didn’t specifically mention important things like Jim Crow laws, she says she’s confident students will still get the full picture of history if teachers, and the new books, fill in the blanks. LISTEN

Tower Center’s Robert Jordan reveals his experiences as U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia

DALLAS (SMU) – Before he became diplomat-in-residence and adjunct professor of political science with SMU’s John G. Tower Center for Political Studies, Robert Jordan served from 2001-03 as U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. When Jordan was first nominated to the posting, it was a time of peace. By the time he assumed the job, terrorists had struck the twin towers on 9/11 and the world had changed. READ MORE

Political Science professor quoted in Fortune Magazine article

Fortune Magazine

Originally Posted: June 30, 2015

Chris Christie 2016: Should a bully be president?

For presidents, success is most often achieved not by pummeling opponents into submission but by schmoozing instead.

Of all of the printable words used to describe Chris Christie—bold, brash, boisterous—bully might be mentioned the most.

The Republican New Jersey governor has garnered a reputation for being short-fused, with a habit of countering slights with immediate, precise, and perhaps disproportionate retribution.

The New York Times in 2013 published a rundown of incidents in which Christie used his political power to administer payback to his opponents, no matter their prominence.

There were video clips of Christie publicly dressing down teachers who spoke out against his plan to cut public employee benefits. A New Jersey state senator, who’d previously served as governor, lost his security detail after Christie said he delayed a cabinet nominee. An institute run by a Rutgers professor lost funding after the professor sided with New Jersey Democrats on a redistricting plan. Then there were allegations from the mayor of Hoboken, who said Christie’s office threatened to withhold recovery aid for damage due to Hurricane Sandy if she failed to approve a development project. And most notably, investigations into the Bridgegate scandal revealed that Christie’s associates had ordered the closure of lanes on the George Washington Bridge, which caused a mammoth traffic jam, after the mayor of nearby Fort Lee, N.J., declined to endorse the governor for reelection.

At one point, Christie’s unfiltered and flamboyant style catapulted him onto the national stage. He reasserted himself there on Tuesday, announcing his bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. Christie’s trademark combativeness will distinguish him from the crowd of Republican competition, but will it make him a good president?

“Christie may well find that kind of aggressive demeanor to be better attuned to campaigning than governing,” says Cal Jillson, a professor of political science at Southern Methodist University. READ MORE

Cal Jillson, Political Science, Lights… cameras… committees!

WFAA

Originally Posted: July 6, 2015

DALLAS —At Dallas City Hall, they’re stringing cable and installing video cameras. The city is investing $2.5 million in new equipment that will broadcast city government to a wider audience.

Before now, many committee meetings were not televised, and none were archived for easy public access. Now — after the City Council returns from its July recess — citizens will have access to 200 hours of live and recorded meetings every month.

“We feel it will make it easier for our residents to understand our business; how Council members arrive at the policy decisions that they’re making; and, at the end of the day, just making what we do easier to understand,” said city spokeswoman Sana Sayed.

Cal Jillson, a political science professor at SMU, applauds the high-tech access. “I think openness and transparency are always a good thing,” he said.

Committee meetings are where much of the heavy policy work is done — like drafting a plastic bag ban or writing rules so Uber can operate in the city. It’s also where citizens get more time to speak their mind.  READ MORE

The Source: Texas’ State Board Of Education And Textbooks

Texas Public Radio

Originally Posted: July 2, 2015

Many problems still exist in how Texas adopts its school textbooks say critics. Reforming the process failed to gain traction in the state’s 84th legislative session.
The troubles have been well documented by Texas journalists over the past 10 years and even some documentarians got in on the action.

The process has produced textbooks that some say distort history, conflate and portray religions inaccurately. Schools have not been required to use the State Board of Education (SBOE) approved books for the past few years, but recently the SBOE requested a legal opinion from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, that many view as another grab at controlling local school districts content.

Gov. Greg Abbott appointed newly elected district 6 board member Donna Bahorich as Chair of the board. The Houston Republican has gotten a lot of attention as a result, with many questioning her role administering public school education when her children were homeschooled. LISTEN

Guests:

Donna Bahorich, Chair of Texas’ State Board of Education
Michael Soto, Professor at Trinity University, and former SBOE member for San Antonio
David Brockman, Instructor at Southern Methodist University

Cas Milner, Physics, subatomic particles could help detect damaged pipes

Inside Science

Originally posted: June 30, 2015

The subatomic muon could reveal potentially disastrous pipe corrosion.

By: Charles Q. Choi, Contributor
(Inside Science) — Of all the parts of the nation’s infrastructure that one might want least to fail, nuclear power plants might rank the highest. U.S. nuclear power plants are on average more than 30 years old now, and pipes within them can corrode over time with potentially lethal results. Now researchers suggest they could noninvasively scan infrastructure for weak points with the aid of subatomic particles streaking down from the sky.

Water and steam pumped through a pipe in a power plant or industrial refinery can eat away one side of the pipe. In 2004, such corrosion led a pipe to break at Mihama Nuclear Power Plant in Japan, killing five people and injuring six others with super-hot high-pressure steam in Japan’s worst nuclear power accident until Fukushima.

Analyzing the structural integrity of pipes typically involves ultrasound and X-ray scans. READ MORE