Monthly Archives: November 2003

Alphabetician To The World

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The Lord of the Rings is his co-pilot. When Michael Everson was a boy, the made-up language of J.R.R. Tolkein’s famous trilogy turned him into a life-long lover of language.

Almost three decades later, the Dublin-based typographer is at the forefront of a scholarly movement to encode every single language ever spoken for computer users all over the world. The formal term for what he’s doing is Unicode 4.

Partly, it’s about democracy. Everson will tell you that computer access in any language is a basic human right. But it’s also about dharma, Everson considers it his life’s mission to preserve the world’s languages in computer form so that they may live on long after the last speaker has left this earth. Thousands down. Thousands to go. A multilingual marathon with the leader of the pack.


Michael Everson, typographer, alphabetician, and Unicode expert

War on Terror, Ctd.

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Explosions rocked Istanbul again today. More than two dozen people were killed and more than 300 injured in bombings that hit the British consulate and an international bank.

Coming on the heels of the weekend synagogue bombings, many are saying both these attacks carry the fingerprints of Al-Qaeda. In Britain, President Bush and Prime Minister Blair said as much in a news conference just hours ago. Both leaders linked today’s bombings to the worldwide war on terror and more reason to stay the course in Iraq.

But while Bush and Blair steel their political spines, others point to recent attacks against journalists in Afghanistan, and bombings in Saudi Arabia as evidence that Al-Qaeda is getting what it wants, a clash of civilizations with the West.


Ilene Prusher, Istanbul Bureau Chief, Christian Science Monitor

Stephen Larrabee, senior political scientist, RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy

Bulent Aliriza, director of the Turkey Project Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC

Jason Burke, Middle East correspondent for the London Observer and author of “Al-Qaeda: Casting a Shadow of Terror”

Making It Legal: Massachusetts & Gay Marriage

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It’s become fashionable to knock marriage. The divorce rate in America hovers at around fifty percent, and an increasing number of couples are ignoring that legal ritual, and just living together.

So when the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts delivered its powerful ruling granting same sex couples the right to marry, some cultural critics might have wondered why anyone would want to bother. The answer is simple. For all its perceived shortcomings, marriage offers a host of legal, financial and social benefits that anchor a couple’s commitment and protect it from the fickleness of public opinion. For those who live together without it the institution matters. But many others want things left as they are. The latest assault on Fortress Marriage.


Cheryl Jacques, Massachusetts State Senator

Michael Bronski, visiting scholar of Women’s and Gender Studies at Dartmouth College and author, “The Pleasure Principle: Sex, Backlash, and the Struggle for Gay Freedom”

Ronald Crews, President, Massachusetts Family Institute

Gloria Bailey and Linda Davies, plaintiffs in Goodridge et al v. Department of Public Health

Dick Gordon — Back from Baghdad

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Seven months and counting since Americans forces rolled into Baghdad. Seven months and counting since President Saddam Hussein disappeared. And for those seven months, Iraqis have watched an American occupation harden back into a war-like stance. Once again they hear the sound of jet fighters above their homes, and the sounds of mortar fire on the streets.

Seven months ago the Connection became the first talk show to sign on from Baghdad, covering those first uncertain days full of freedom, and looting, crime and news of lost relatives. We are back now from another two weeks in the Iraqi capital.

This next hour, a chance for you to ask the questions, and for us, to talk about what we saw and heard in the streets of that city.


Marc Allard, Connection producer in Iraq

John Daniszewski, LA Times reporter in Baghdad.

Harvard's Working Poor

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Harvard is the world’s wealthiest University. But until recently, many of the people who worked there could have just as well been working at McDonalds, their pay was so low. These are the people who dust the portraits, polish the oak panels, scrub the toilets and wash the floors. These are the janitors and security guards who work day and night doing jobs that most of the students and faculty there would find abhorrent, and way below their station in life.

But two years ago, something happened at Harvard, something that changed the paychecks of some of its lowest paid workers and changed the lives of some of its students. How a handful of undergrads took on the nation’s wealthiest University and won.


Greg Halpern, author of “Harvard Works Because We Do”;
Danny Meagher, Security Guard;

President Bush Goes to Britain.

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It seemed like a good idea at the time. That has to be the way Tony Blair is feeling about George Bush’s visit to the U.K. just now. The planning for the trip started months ago, before the attacks on Bagdad began.

The visit was originally intended to be a victory lap for the leaders of the Anglo-American alliance, who were anticipating a swift and decisive military win. But things have turned out differently. Today, half the police force in London has been deployed to contain the hundreds of thousands of protestors who are already converging on the city.

And while Prime Minister Blair insists that this is the right time for the U.K. to stand firm with the United States in defeating terrorism, many are wondering if the special relationship can survive the post-war hangover.


Jon Meacham, managing editor of Newsweek magazine and author of ‘Franklin and Winston': An Epic Friendship

John Pienaar, chief political correspondent at BBC’s 5 Live.

Mary Magdalene Reconsidered

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For centuries, Mary Magdalene was portrayed by the Catholic Church as a former prostitute.

A recent novel, “The Da Vinci Code,” portrays Mary married to Jesus and giving birth to his child. And there’s been a burst of scholarly books trying to determine the true identity Mary Magdalene. Harvard Divinity School professor Karen King analyzes “The Gospel of Mary,” a 2nd Century text that never made it into the New Testament canon. No hint of being a fallen woman, here Mary Magdalene is a forceful preacher, competing with male disciples for leadership in the early church.

Why is there so much interest in Mary Magdalene these days? Is it simply the result of a best-selling thriller? Or does Mary Magdalene raise basic questions about the way women are perceived in church and society?


Karen King, Professor of Ecclesiastical History, Harvard University Divinity School, author, “The Gospel of Mary of Magdala”

Lesa Bellevie, creator and webmaster of

Alabama Judge Roy S. Moore

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Roy Moore is trying to start the next American Revolution. He fired the opening shot in August 2001, when the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, along with a band of evangelical Christian supporters and a television crew, installed a statue of the Ten Commandments in the state court rotunda.

A federal court has since ordered Moore to remove the statue and an ethics panel threw him off the bench for refusing to uphold the rule of law and violating his oath of office.

But while the courts criticize Roy Moore, many Alabamians celebrate him as a man willing to stand up for God. And now that he is no longer on the bench, Moore’s fight is likely to continue in another arena with a run for governor or perhaps the U.S. Senate.


Judge Roy Moore, former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court


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When Francisco Goya y Lucientes died in self-imposed exile in early 19th century France, people said he was mad. Really, he was just angry–an old man who had spent his last 35 years raging against sudden deafness and making etchings of wild-eyed mortals caught in the throes of insanity. Goya got his start, living as court painter, serving Spain’s weak-chinned Bourbon king.

Before moving on to rendering the life of his times, reared in the shadow the Inquisition, witness to Napoleon’s feats of hubris and brutality, Goya made no room for redemption in his two dimensional renderings of man’s inhumanity to man.


Robert Hughes, art critic and author, most recently, of “Goya”

The Music of Iraq

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I met a traveler from an ancient land who said “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone stand in the desert. Near them on the sand, half sunk, a shattered visage lies whose frown and wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command tell that its sculptor well those passions read which yet survive.”

The classic poem, Ozymandias tells of one civilization’s symbols in decay but the arts are a powerful force, and from the wreckage of war and looting, Iraq’s musicians, painters, sculptors, and actors are busy once again, searching for expression in a state that has not yet had a chance to decide its own future. The sound of music in a land where, boundless and bare, the lone and level sands stretch far away.

Operation Harmony: Inquiries about contributions to the Iraq National Symphony can be emailed to Penny Ojeda, at the Endowment of the Arts. See below for email link.


Hisham Sharaf, Director of the Iraqi National Symphony and Director of the School of Music and Ballet

Majid Al Gazali, principal second violin of the Iraqi Symphony Orchestra.