Society


Maine elected its first openly French-American congressman, Michael H. Michaud, in 2002.

Long-Scorned in Maine, French Has Renaissance • New York Times • June 4, 2006

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I finally read an essay that Daniel e-mailed me over a year ago. Professor Henry Jenkins, director of the Comparative Media Studies Program at MIT, has written about fan fiction as a medium through which ordinary people change their relationship to popular culture from being passive consumers to active participants in its creation. He uses fan films of Star Wars as the primary case study. The essay is long (it’s literally a book chapter) but a good read.

“With overall membership on the wane in Japan, union leaders were only too happy to welcome newcomers, no matter how unconventional the trade.”

And in the spirit of the season, here’s a link to one of the most incredible holiday light displays I’ve seen:

Wizards of Winter

So many people went to see it in person that the homeowner shut it down on December 6, after a car accident in the neighborhood.

More info
Videos of other people’s synchronized light shows

Here’s a video of some guys in Russia with some pretty amazing moves — don’t try this at home, kids! They’re doing a sport called Le Parkour, and there are a ton of videos on Google about it. BBC News and Wikipedia have good introductory articles. I’m not going to be trying this sport anytime soon…

My German friend Clemens said this has a ring of truth to it:

Germans value letters attached to their name more than money, love or having children with nine out of ten rating a good qualification as their most important aim in life, a survey showed Wednesday.

Germans prefer letters after name to love or money — Reuters

Since I and so many of my friends are turning 30 this year, I thought this New York Times article would be appropriate: Smiling Through the 30th, a Birthday Once Apocalyptic

Once, turning 30 was slightly irritating, an embarrassing passage, and people were in no mood to broadcast the news. This was especially true for unmarried women and for men whose careers had not yet ignited. Today, when marriage is routinely delayed past 30 and the 20’s are often an extended adolescence — a time of romantic and professional hopscotch — a 30th birthday feels to many the way 21 once did, as the gateway to the more serious adult world. It is no longer a day to count up regrets stoically, but to pop the Moët & Chandon.

So far, I can relate to this article. Until this sentence:

Increasingly, it is celebrated with all the pomp of a graduation blowout or a wedding reception, with formal invitations, speeches, rented halls or yachts, and guest lists drawn from every stage of the person’s life.

Uh, okay…

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