TIME magazine in general is rather an unenlightened source for blog material. It is good reading for other reasons, like keeping up with aspects of the news I don't garner in other places, but it does not tend to highlight those movements that are changing the world for the better.
Having said that, one noted feature this past month has been TIME.com/POY. No, that is not a new ethnic recipe, but rather our chance to vote on the Person of the Year via online poll. Each week for the last several weeks TIME has devoted a page to various famous nominators and their nominees and then invited us to vote as well--that is inclusive and enlightened and I applaud them. Examples of the famous nominating the famous include:
1-Hugh Hefner, you know him, for Steven Jobs, you know him too.
2-Lisa Randall, an non-famous scientist, for Dick Cheney, for cynical--not enlightened--reasons.
3-Nora Roberts, the author of romance novels, for Hillary Clinton, the infamous Senator from NY.
4-George Allen, a former Senator, for General David Petraeus of Iraq fame.
5-John Irving, the author, for Al Gore, the Nobel Laureate and Oscar award winner
6-Lance Armstrong, the athlete, for the Voters of Texas, who approved $ for cancer research
7-Betty Ford, one Republican First Lady, for Laura Bush, another Republican First Lady.
8-Steven Chen, YouTube Founder, for the Burmese Buddhist Monks.
My vote went to the Buddhist Monks of Burma for demonstrating lighted change while also courageously putting their lives on the line for freedom. Mr Chen eloquently stated: "The Burmese Buddhist monks demonstrated on a global scale their humble, peaceful protests for a set of inalienable, basic human rights that no government can revoke or suppress." It might be an equally courageous act for TIME magazine to name these intrepid souls Persons of the Year, a designation that could have far-reaching ramifications to these men and women who are now either in prison or hiding. Aesop said it is easy to be brave from a safe distance. These monks did not have that option.
But who will be the TIME Person of the Year? My guess is Al Gore because of his "MO" (pronounced mow) which has been explained to me as unstoppable political movement. It seems that this is Al Gore's time, and so far he is making the most of it. John Irving says of his nominee: "Gore has devoted himself to bringing awareness to environmental issues that endanger the planet, namely global warming." Stay tuned because the winner will be announced on NBC's Today show this Wednesday, December 19th.
TIME had two other lighted tidbits worth mentioning: first, The New York Philharmonic will be making a cultural trek to North Korea by invitation of Kim Jung Il. The orchestra has received flack for this move from the WSJ editorial page a few weeks back, but I would beg to differ. Apparently, we have a chance for a small opening with North Korea and what better way than music to begin to bridge the gap. Music can have magical properties; so, we will see what unfolds during and following the tour.
Second, Harvard has announced more free tuition and much improved financial aid packages for lower, middle and upper middle income students. The motive behind this is a bloated endowment fund and possible Congressional involvement. However, it is enlightened change to educate a larger and more socio-economically diverse student base than to build larger and more fancy buildings as others have done (e.g. Princeton.) Says Harvard's President, Drew Faust, "Education is the engine that makes American democracy work. And it has to work, and that means people have to have access." While not the most pithy statement ever recorded, we do get the point. TIME and other printed sources have noted that Harvard could start a trend in higher education toward more free or greatly reduced tuition. Stay tuned.
And finally, globalization is shrinking the world, that is nothing new. What is an enlightened change is that more and more people are having to brush-up on or in many cases learn world-wide geography, many for the first time. The WSJ in their Weekend Travel section today (12-15/16-07, p. W1) highlighted an online quiz game on locations and landmarks that is winning millions of fans the world over: "One of the most popular video-games on the internet right now is about as low-tech as a high-school social studies quiz. The free game, Traveler IQ Challenge, has become an unlikely hit by getting players to locate Kinshasa, Moscow and other cities and attractions by clicking on a crude, two-dimensional map, and scoring them based on the speed and accuracy of their responses." The article goes on to say: "Issues like climate change, globalization and the war in Iraq are encouraging interest in far flung places. . .Ambrose Briese said after World War I that 'War is God's way of teaching Americans geography.' " On a troubling note it says that the public "has a long way to go before. . .improving its grasp of geography. A survey from early last year sponsored by the National Geographic Society found that only half of young American adults, ages 18 to 24, could locate New York City on a map. Six out of 10 could not find Iraq on a map of the Middle East." If you want to try Traveler IQ Challenge, you will have to Google it because the website address was not listed in the article, go figure (maybe that's a test to see how well you can navigate the world wide web, which has many similarities to learning geography.)