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Dave Minneman, heroic portrait

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History Aug 25.

East Asheville history and sites

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History Feb 27.

The German experience settling WNC 1 Reply

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History. Last reply by Scott Dockery Feb 16.

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Spellbound posted an event
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Lyndsay Eli with GUNSLINGER GIRL (YA Novel) at Spellbound Children's Bookshop

January 20, 2018 from 6pm to 7pm
Are you a fan of The Hunger Games?  Then picture what Katniss would be like - with a gun.  That's just a taste of the "new" West action Lyndsay Eli brings to Spellbound Children's Bookshop with Gunslinger Girl.  She shares her debut novel on Saturday, January 20, at 6 p.m. The US has been fractured by a Second Civil War. Serendipity 'Pity' Jones finds a home of sorts in the corrupt, lawless city of Cessation (think Las Vegas on steroids).  Her shooting skills make her a star of the Theater…See More
Monday
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

Cherokee and WNC music and dance events

Two Big Cultural Events in December in Hendersonville & Ashevillefrom press releaseThe Center for Cultural Preservation, WNC’s cultural history and documentary film center, presents, Cherokee Music and Dance on Thursday, December 7, 7 p.m., Blue Ridge Community College’s Thomas Auditorium.  Tickets are $5. The screening of A Great American Tapestry will be held on December 2, 2 p.m., at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Reuter Center, UNC Asheville.  Tickets for that event are…See More
Nov 15
Spellbound posted events
Nov 9
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Battery Park Hill through the ages

Battery Park through the Years by Rob NeufeldPHOTO CAPTIONS: 1) Present-day view of Battery Park Apartments from…See More
Nov 6
Mark de Castrique posted a blog post
Oct 13
Rob Neufeld's discussion was featured

Dave Minneman, heroic portrait

Dave Minneman and a sense of justiceby Rob NeufeldPHOTO CAPTION: Dave Minneman doing research at Pack Memorial Library.  Photo by author.            “One of the biggest things I did as a kid, in order to escape my father,” Asheville resident Dave Minneman says of his 1960s and 70s rural Indiana childhood, “was…See More
Oct 8
Julia Nunnally Duncan posted an event

Julia Nunnally Duncan at MACA Authors' Booth

October 14, 2017 from 9:30am to 1:30pm
Julia Nunnally Duncan will be signing her new books A Part of Me and A Place That Was Home at the Mountain Glory Festival in downtown Marion on Saturday, October 14, from 9:30-1:30. She will be located at the MACA Authors' booth on Main Street.See More
Oct 7
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

Sample 8 Great Smokies Writers at Malaprop’s, Oct. 15

Writers in UNC Asheville’s Great Smokies Writing Program (GSWP)read atMalaprop's Bookstore/Café, 55 Haywood St., Asheville, 3 p.m., Sun.,Oct. 15 Elizabeth Lutyens, editor of the GSWP’s Great Smokies Review, leads the Prose Master Class and will host the reading. ·        Ellen Carr, who works in the financial industry, will read excerpts from her novel of uneasy relationships, Unmanned. ·        Sarah Carter, an artist and photographer who will publish an excerpt of her novel, Jolene, Joe-Pye,…See More
Oct 6
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Ellington in Asheville--a survey

The Douglas Ellington effect: An Appreciationby Rob NeufeldIMAGE: Douglas Ellington’s original drawing for a City Hall-County Courthouse Art Deco complex.            “Dear Douglas,” Kenneth Ellington wrote his brother, the 38-year old Pittsburgh architect, on May 6, 1925, “I know things are…See More
Oct 6
Mark de Castrique posted a blog post

How To Kill Your Reader

Danger is a crucial element in a mystery novel. A killer is on the loose and no one is safe. But sometimes the killer can be the writer, and the victim, the reader.I'm talking about when the author turns into a preacher and the story becomes a sermon. Now I am not against using a mystery novel for social commentary. Writing doesn't happen in a moral vacuum, and, after all, isn't a mystery a morality play? As fellow North Carolina author Margaret Maron said there is no topic that can't be dealt…See More
Oct 5
Mark de Castrique posted a video

Hidden Scars - A Sam Blackman Mystery

Sam Blackman and Nakayla Robertson investigate a 70-year-old death that unleashes a killer.
Oct 3
Mark de Castrique posted a discussion

Black Mountain College as Backdrop for Mystery

My new book, HIDDEN SCARS, is released Oct 3rd.  D.G. Martin notes the star of the story is Black Mountain College.  http://chapelboro.com/town-square/columns/one-on-one/one-one-lost-college-still-shinesSee More
Oct 3
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Upcoming book--Sacred Sites for Secular Times

Sacred Sites for Secular Times: 50 Commemorative Experiences in Western North Carolina by Rob Neufeld              Among the many sites dedicated to history, there are some—both overbooked and overlooked—that provide full and moving experiences.  They involve a physical component, connecting to landscape; an imaginative one, entering other times and minds; and an interactive one, maintaining relevance.             The entries in this book help create full experiences through descriptive…See More
Sep 25
Susan Weinberg posted events
Sep 22
Susan Weinberg shared their event on Facebook
Sep 22
Susan Weinberg shared their event on Facebook
Sep 22

Ethics book presents 82 tough situations

by Rob Neufeld

 

            I wanted to see the book, “Ethics in the Real World: 82 Brief Essays on Things That Matter,” by Peter Singer, because I think real-life parables are helpful in considering such conundrums.

            I was hoping that the work’s academic origins—Singer is a professor of bioethics at Princeton University and the publisher is Princeton—would not stiffen good storytelling.

            The verdict?  Singer’s “Ethics” is, for the most part, compelling, nagged by a tolerable amount of over-explaining, so it thankfully fills the need for readable case studies of topics you don’t discuss at cocktail parties.

 

Giving to the poor

 

            Let’s start off with a challenge that involves hope.

            The World Bank, Singer reports, said it would cost $50 billion a year to reduce dire poverty in the world by 50%.  This comprises one-tenth of the population.  The expense equals an average donation of $100 from every adult in the developed world.  If everyone gave 1% of their income after expenses, Singer asserts, extreme poverty could be completely eradicated.

            How does this involve an ethical dilemma?  Singer zings the dinger.

            “We tend to think of charity as something that is ‘morally optional,’” he writes, “good to do, but not wrong to fail to do.”  But why not think, instead, he proposes, that not donating at least 1% is “morally wrong.”

            You can tell, this book is going to be a pain.  Yet, for those seeking teaching or self-examining moments, that’s the appeal.  Bring it on; let’s see if we can test ourselves and discuss things without blowing up.

            Before delving in, let’s work with one more hopeful conundrum.

            The nation of Bhutan has as its goal “gross national happiness,” rather than gross national product, Singer reports.  A commission there interviewed 8,000 Bhutanese to determine what determines happiness, and devised policies.

            Happiness may be a no-brainer, but policies are troublesome.  Asheville people will raise eyebrows at Bhutan’s high visa fees, meant to reduce tourism in favor of happiness.

            Regarding best choices, Singer often tips the balance.  For instance, weighing in on happiness versus profits, he notes that unhappiness is monetarily expensive to society.

 

Cheating

 

            As we ease over to the dark side with Singer, let’s begin with something not terribly ominous: “Is it OK to cheat at football?”

            By football, Singer means soccer.  In 2010, you may remember, the German World Cup goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer, faked the referee into thinking that Frank Lampard’s ricochet-off-the-top-bar goal had landed outside the goal line.  That’s “win at all costs” behavior, and “cheating,” Singer states.

            Soccer fans can recall similar coups: Maradona’s handball goal in Brazil’s defeat of England, 1986; Thierry Henry’s handball assist in France’s advance to the World Cup versus Ireland, 2009.

            But, then there’s Robbie Fowler, a Liverpool striker who, in a game against Arsenal, told a referee that a foul called against the player defending him was not correct.  The ref said that it was, and to just take the penalty kick; and Fowler complied by kicking the ball softly to the keeper.

              Singer says that a professional sports context makes the moral choice more significant because players are role models with millions of viewers.  Neuer could have promoted good character, Singer asserts.  Who’d have called him a stooge if he’d acted honestly and yielded the goal?

            Some other Singer themes concern: WikiLeaks (a little out of date now); the refugee crisis (he calls refugee camps a least-bad solution); and the Internet (he touts expanding it to every world citizen).

            The issue of renaming commemorations came to his attention when the Black Justice League and others at his university, Princeton, moved to remove Woodrow Wilson’s name from a school and a college.

            Wilson had been a Princeton alumnus and president.  As U.S. president, he’d outlawed child labor, restricted the power of banks, injected morality into international affairs with his 14 Points, and—to his discredit—reintroduced racial segregation in the U.S,

            Does commemorating him promote understanding or legitimize hurt?

            Not surprisingly, Singer devotes seven chapters to right-to-life issues.

            “If the fetus really did have the moral status of any other human being,” he posits in one chapter, it would be hard to argue that a woman’s right to choose includes the right to end a life, “except perhaps when the woman’s life is at stake.”  But the anti-abortion fallacy, he continues, “lies in the shift from the scientifically accurate claim that the fetus is a living individual of the species Homo sapiens to the ethical claim that the fetus therefore has the same right to life as any other human being.”

            You can see that Singer engages in logical discussion of views as much as in presentation.  I think the presentations are more effective than the debates, though it’s good to have the talking points spelled out.

            The sanctity-of-life issue becomes excruciatingly difficult to sort out when confronted with the story of what doctors and nurses had to decide at New Orleans’ Memorial Medical Center in 2005.  Only so many patients could be carried down and up stairs to an airlift when Katrina flooded the city and power went out.  Those left behind were, in a few instances, given large doses of morphine to induce painless deaths.

            It reminds me of a parable I once heard in a radio debate.  Ten people climb into a boat that can only hold nine afloat in the ocean.  No one wants to jump off and no one wants everyone to drown, as would happen if no one left.  What does a right-to-life person do?

            I recommend Singer’s book, though, as a holiday gift, it might split rather than inspire families.  I do think it falls short of unqualified excellence.  Some of its arguments are incomplete; and more is needed than persuasion to have someone say, “Oh, my bad, I’m not going to be evil anymore.”

 

Rob Neufeld writes the weekly book feature for the Sunday Citizen-Times.  He is the author and editor of six books, and the publisher of the website, “The Read on WNC.”   He can be reached at RNeufeld@charter.net and 505-1973.  Follow him @WNC_chronicler.

 

 

           

           

            

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