News

Re-examining Atticus Finch; Harper Lee’s novels: Dean Thomas DiPiero on KERA’s “Think” (90.1FM) Wednesday, July 29, at noon

Wednesday, 7/29 – Think

Hour 1: Earlier this month, HarperCollins published Go Set a Watchman, the novel Harper Lee called the “parent” of To Kill a Mockingbird. This hour, we’ll talk about how the book has us reconsidering Atticus Finch and the rest of the Mockingbird universe with Thomas DiPiero, dean of the Dedman College of Humanities at SMU. DiPiero reviewed Watchman for the New York Post.

Hour 2: Matthew Diffee’s cartoons have routinely made the pages of The New Yorker for more than a decade. This hour, we’ll talk with Diffee about what separates the comics that make it in from the ones that don’t – and about packing the maximum amount of humor into a single frame. His new book is Hand Drawn Jokes for Smart Attractive People (Scribner). READ MORE

David Haynes, English, the Kimbilio Retreat at SMU-in-Taos helps black writers hone their craft

Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: July 21, 2015

Southern Methodist University is building a supportive relationship between black fiction writers and an SMU sister campus in Taos, N.M.

Black fiction writers are encouraged to consider attending future sessions of the Kimbilio Retreat at the SMU-in-Taos campus. Participants are winding up this year’s retreat, which began Sunday and ends Saturday. The campus, bearing low, adobe-colored buildings, is in Ranchos de Taos, about 10 miles south of Taos.

SMU creative writing director David Haynes began Kimbilio Retreat two years ago, drawing inspiration from Cave Canem, a similar retreat for black poets that has met in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Columbia, S.C. Kimbilio is Swahili for “refuge.”

“This is an ideal place to get away and just focus on writing,” Haynes says of Taos in promotional materials.

At the current retreat, 19 fiction writing fellows are focusing on refining their manuscripts. The fellows draw support from each other, get quiet time to write and receive guidance from published writers and faculty, including Haynes.

“Sometimes you just need to sit and think, and SMU-in-Taos is ideal for doing that,” Haynes says in the materials.

To learn more, visit kimbiliofiction.com/kimbilo or call 214-768-2945. READ MORE

Cal Jillson, Political Science, comparing governors and miracles

Bloomberg

Miracles are regular occurrences for governors who want to be president of the U.S.

Rick Perry’s supporters have talked about the “Texas Miracle” of job growth. Post-recession recoveries under John Kasich and Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal are the “Ohio Miracle” and “Miracle on the Bayou.”

Politicians regardless of party put a supernatural gloss on economic cause and effect. Reality is more nuanced. Bloomberg News examined the records of 10 governors and ex-governors trying to occupy the White House in 2016, considering 11 economic indicators. Below is an interactive graphic that shows the numbers, and deeper discussions of governors prominent in the race. READ MORE.

Brad Carter, Political Science, to lecture on ‘politics of anger’ at Wilbur Public Library

Dallas Morning News

Wilmer Public Library will host a lecture on Tuesday (8/4/15) about politics as part of its annual summer series.

Brad Carter, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University, will talk about what influences people’s views on government and the development of a “politics of anger.” He will explore the history of political parties and how they’ve changed.

The event is free and open to the public. It will be at 7 p.m. at Gilliam Memorial Public Library, 205 E. Belt Line Road. READ MORE

Matthew Keller, Sociology, The Evolution of U.S. Innovation Policy

In a volume issued by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Prof. Keller argues that since the 1980s, the U.S. government has been involved in innovative dynamism through decentralized programs that have often fallen beneath the radar of public debates. Understanding the programs is crucial to bolstering the U.S. innovation system, and to nations that seek to emulate the U.S. capacity for innovation. The book includes work from the former Chief Economists of the World Bank and ADB, academics and policy-makers. READ MORE

Clements Foundation Gifts to SMU-in-Taos Cap Legacy of Giving From William P. Clements, Jr.

WILLIAM_P_CLEMENTS_JRDALLAS (SMU) – When friends and supporters of SMU-in-Taos gathered at the New Mexico campus in July to celebrate the opening of the Carolyn and David Miller Campus Center, the event also underscored more than four decades of visionary support from the late Bill Clements, Jr. ‘39 and the Clements Foundation.

Clements and his wife, Rita, contributed more than $7.5 million toward development of facilities and programs for the Taos campus before his death in 2011. Now, a $1 million gift from the Clements Foundation will support the position of the William P. Clements, Jr. Endowed Executive Director of SMU-in-Taos, currently held by Mike Adler, SMU associate professor of anthropology. The Clements Foundation also honored Clements through its support of the Miller Campus Center and the naming of the center’s William P. Clements, Jr. Great Hall.  READ MORE

Death of 12-year-old Santos Rodriguez to be remembered this Friday in Dallas cemetery

Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: July 23, 2015

Family and friends will gather this Friday morning to quietly honor the life of 12-year-old Santos Rodriguez, who was killed by a Dallas police officer 42 years ago. The boy’s mother and others will gather for prayer and flowers at his grave in Oakland Cemetery at 9 a.m. just south of downtown.

“It seems like it happened yesterday,” said Bessie Rodriguez, his 71-year-old mother. “Poor thing, just a kid. I have dreams of him pleading for his life.”

The mother loves Elvis, the son loved Santana. The son told her he’d always protect her, the mother says. Memories like that give some balance to the brutality around her boy’s death. READ MORE

Joshua Rovner, Tower Center, Iran deal “neither as transformative as advocates hope nor as terrible as critics fear”

SMU News

Originally Posted: July 15, 2015

The White House announced Tuesday, July 14, that the United States and other nations had struck a deal with Iran to limit its nuclear programs in exchange for billions of dollars in relief from international sanctions.

Joshua Rovner, the John G. Tower Distinguished Chair in International Politics and National Security at SMU, says:

As a nonproliferation agreement, there is a lot to like. The deal significantly reduces Iran’s current nuclear capabilities and enhances international monitoring, which will make it easier for inspectors and intelligence agencies to spot cheating.

But in terms of regional politics, the deal is neither as transformative as advocates hope nor as terrible as critics fear. Some advocates believe that it will signal a new era of stability and better relations between the United States and Iran. This is unlikely. Past arms control agreements with the Soviet Union, Libya, and North Korea had little effect on their relations with the United States. Better political relations can lead to more durable arms control deals, not vice versa. So while there is reason to celebrate the announcement, we should not exaggerate what it means for the Middle East or for U.S.-Iranian relations.

Meanwhile, some critics of the deal fear that offers Iran a pathway to regional hegemony. This ignores profound problems in Iran. Its economy is in shambles and its conventional military capabilities are very limited. It also suffers from political dysfunction at home, and large segments of its young population are clearly disillusioned with the clerical regime. The agreement alleviates some of the economic stress on Iran, but it does not solve these problems. Regardless of the deal, Iran will remain a struggling regional power that uses proxies to extend its influence, but not the kind of country that could make a serious bid for regional hegemony. READ MORE

Cal Jillson, Political Science, quoted in the Houston Chronicle

Houston Chronicle

Originally Posted: July 21, 2015

As Trump shoots from the hip, Lone Ranger Perry fires back

WASHINGTON – With Donald Trump under fire, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry sat for an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Monday night via satellite hookup, appearing by himself in the corner of a room beside a lamp, a set of books and a globe.
“I’m going to stand up to him, just like I would stand up to Vladimir Putin,” Perry said, explaining his escalating war of words with the outlandish business mogul, who had attacked Perry’s record of policing the southern border in Texas.

Perry, Hannity noted, seemed more willing than any of his GOP rivals to take on Trump, who has surged to the top of the Republican presidential primary polls. “There seems to be bad blood here growing,” he said.

“Well, I don’t know about bad blood,” Perry replied, “but when he attacks me and the bullet goes through me and hits the Texas Rangers … you better believe I’m going to stand up.”

The clip of Perry alone in a corner seemed an apt visual for a candidate who has been pushing back the hardest against the Trump phenomenon, even before the reality TV star’s incendiary remarks belittling the war record of U.S. Sen. John McCain, a Vietnam War POW.

“I have a message for my fellow Republicans and the independents who will be voting in the primary process,” Perry said last week, before Trump scrambled the GOP contest with his shot at McCain. “What Mr. Trump is offering is not conservatism, it is Trump-ism – a toxic mix of demagoguery and nonsense.”

The contrast has been particularly stark with U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who courted the Manhattan tycoon in his Trump Tower office last week. Since then, Cruz has steadfastly declined to join the GOP scrum over Trump’s controversial remarks questioning McCain’s war heroism.

“I recognize that folks in the press love to see Republican-on-Republican violence, so you want me to say something bad about Donald Trump or bad about John McCain or bad about anyone else,” Cruz told reporters in Iowa. “I’m not going to do it. John McCain is a friend of mine. I respect and admire him and he’s an American hero. And Donald Trump is a friend of mine.”

Analysts say both Texans have been hurt by Trump, who has co-opted both of their messages on border security and immigration. He once even publicly questioned Cruz’s Canadian birth.

But the new conflagration also presents opportunities. For Cruz, a Trump implosion – still by no means certain – would be a chance to reclaim the anti-Washington part of the GOP base that has rallied around Trump’s no-holds-barred tactics.

“It’s a bet that at some point, Trump disappears,” said Southern Methodist University political scientist Cal Jillson, explaining Cruz’s reluctance to go after Trump. READ MORE

Mysterious link emerges between Native Americans and people half a globe away

ScienceMag.org

Originally Posted: July 21, 2015

The Americas were the last great frontier to be settled by humans, and their peopling remains one of the great mysteries for researchers. This week, two major studies of the DNA of living and ancient people try to settle the big questions about the early settlers: who they were, when they came, and how many waves arrived. But instead of converging on a single consensus picture, the studies, published online in Science and Nature, throw up a new mystery: Both detect in modern Native Americans a trace of DNA related to that of native people from Australia and Melanesia. The competing teams, neither of which knew what the other was up to until the last minute, are still trying to reconcile and make sense of each other’s data.

“Both models … see in the Americas a subtle signal from” Australo-Melanesians, notes Science co-author David Meltzer, an archaeologist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. “A key difference is when and how it arrived in the New World.” The Nature team concludes it came in one of two early waves of migration into the continent, whereas the Science team concludes it came much later, and was unrelated to the initial peopling. READ MORE