Fifty years ago, an all-white fraternity at Stanford pledged its first black member, creating national headlines and making the frat house a hot spot for the civil rights movement:
The Stanford chapter wasn't spoiling for a fight, but its members chafed at the notion that race should be a factor in membership considerations. A letter sent to chapter alums in late 1964 warned that the house was in crisis because it was "not free to pledge Negroes." In February 1965 the chapter sent a letter to Sigma Chi officials saying it intended to rush prospective members on a nondiscriminatory basis.
When pledge bids were given out in March 1965, one went to Washington, who accepted on April 3. On April 10, word arrived that Sigma Chi's national executive committee had suspended the Stanford chapter as of April 2, allegedly for chronic flouting of rituals and traditions.
PUBLISHED: March 6, 2014
LENGTH: 14 minutes (3542 words)
Inside couples counseling with Harville Hendrix and Helen Hunt:
Harville and Helen take turns talking and clicking through a PowerPoint that includes slides in both English and Spanish. Helen explains that half the people here tonight are the “draggers,” the other half are the “draggees,” and that it will actually be that second group that’s more excited by the end of the workshop. “See,” she says. “Your partner already decided that you’re the problem.”
Harville goes over what couples generally want from a relationship, which he boils down to: safety, a connected feeling, and joy. Helen explains that even if we forget everything else, they hope we remember three things. One idea: that childhood influences marriages. One skill: the ability to have safe conversations. One decision: a commitment to zero negativity.
We both bristle a bit at that last one.
PUBLISHED: Feb. 11, 2014
LENGTH: 19 minutes (4893 words)
On the disappearance of the Wilson Quarterly:
The subject line worried me. “The Wilson Quarterly’s Final Happy Hour,” it said. Even the rosiest interpretation—that they’d decided, say, to discontinue their occasional get-togethers—was troubling. A link to an online invitation appeared below. The editors had completed the winter 2014 issue, a best-of collection drawn from “four decades of classic essays.” A few particulars followed and then the bad news, withheld for a bit, the way people do: “This will be our final quarterly issue,” they said.
PUBLISHED: Feb. 11, 2014
LENGTH: 7 minutes (1789 words)
Henry Evans, a quadriplegic who is unable to speak, is exploring how robotics can greatly enhance the lives of the disabled:
When Henry lost the ability to move most of his body and to speak, the disabled world gained a strong advocate, and those who study robotics got a tireless and passionate thinker. A few years into his new life, Henry recognized the potential of robots to level the playing field for severely disabled individuals. Like Henry, many people are dependent on caregivers for their "activities of daily living," as they are called: eating, showering, moving around, shaving, even scratching an itch. But robotics has the potential to help by serving as extensions or surrogates for body parts. Living with quadriplegia had given Henry a grasp of what ideas would actually be helpful in practice. So he began reaching out to others. He has become an idea generator and a test pilot, using robots to open drawers and even to shave. He has helped create and test user interfaces and programs, providing feedback for his collaborators at more than half a dozen universities and labs across the country.
PUBLISHED: Jan. 9, 2014
LENGTH: 9 minutes (2299 words)
How North Texas became the production hub for Christian entertainment:
And as North Texas grew, the region—with its affordable acreage to site large-scale production facilities and its mostly conservative and religious-minded population—proved attractive to faith-based entrepreneurs. It helped, too, that in the 1980s, a film- and television-production tradition was established here, with secular fare like JFK, RoboCop, and Walker, Texas Ranger.
The early ’90s also saw a flurry of production activity in Dallas. In 1988, the family-friendly, Allen-based Lyrick Studios (originally known as Lyons Group) was born and began turning out the TV series Barney and Wishbone, and distributing the Christian-themed cartoon VeggieTales. Five years later, Trinity Broadcasting Network, which later became the first major network to air T.D. Jakes’ sermons, bought a 50,000-square-foot studio in Irving. Then competing Christian-based Daystar Television Network was founded in Dallas by Joni and Marcus Lamb.
Put all of these elements together—a filmmaking infrastructure; oil, gas, and real estate wealth; religiosity; the eternal, irresistible allure of the silver screen—and you can see how Dallas wound up at the center of the modern faith-based entertainment market.
PUBLISHED: Dec. 1, 2013
LENGTH: 14 minutes (3730 words)
Udacity founder Sebastian Thrun takes stock of what’s working, and what’s not, with regard to online university courses:
As Thrun was being praised by Friedman, and pretty much everyone else, for having attracted a stunning number of students–1.6 million to date–he was obsessing over a data point that was rarely mentioned in the breathless accounts about the power of new forms of free online education: the shockingly low number of students who actually finish the classes, which is fewer than 10%. Not all of those people received a passing grade, either, meaning that for every 100 pupils who enrolled in a free course, something like five actually learned the topic. If this was an education revolution, it was a disturbingly uneven one.
“We were on the front pages of newspapers and magazines, and at the same time, I was realizing, we don’t educate people as others wished, or as I wished. We have a lousy product,” Thrun tells me. “It was a painful moment.” Turns out he doesn’t even like the term MOOC.
PUBLISHED: Nov. 16, 2013
LENGTH: 20 minutes (5041 words)
A profile of psychiatrist David Burns, who wrote Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy
, "one of the most successful psychotherapy books ever written" that has helped transform the field of psychiatry:
"Equally surprising: Burns tells the therapists he wants them to fail. Time and again. They can afford to do this because—unlike when he was a psychiatric resident in the 1970s and not one of his patients improved appreciably over an entire year—he now has 50 techniques they can try to cause 'dramatic change' in patients. 'Right away. Not in five or six years.' Burns wants them to fail at technique after technique until they find the ones that work for each patient.
"To some of the therapists, it sounds too good to be true. Burns reassures them that the techniques he's about to teach, once dismissed by the mainstream, are becoming the mainstream.
"I know what he says is true. I've read his books and used his methods and have experienced the relief of having my own acute depression evaporate in an instant."
PUBLISHED: Sept. 2, 2013
LENGTH: 21 minutes (5256 words)
A community in Texas grapples with the deaths of two high school students:
"The Friday night before that Sunday at Possum Kingdom Lake, Coppell played an away game at Hebron High School in Carrollton. Jacob went up to Solomon and said, 'What’s wrong with you? You haven’t gotten any sacks all season!' The two had worked out a signature move: Solomon, after a sack, would bring his palms together and bow to the crowd. The very next play, Solomon got a sack and took his bow. 'Jacob went crazy,' Solomon says. 'He chest-bumped me and said, ‘That was the sickest celebration!’ He was screaming and laughing and so pumped up.'
"Cam McDaniel, Gavin’s older brother, a running back at Notre Dame, was the first to reach Solomon on the phone that Sunday afternoon to give him the terrible news. 'What should I do?' asked Solomon, shaken. Cam said, 'Solly, pray. And just keep the faith.' The 6-foot-3, 260-pound athlete hung up the phone and fell to the floor.
"As word spread, CHS students flocked to the one place they felt closest to Jacob—Buddy Echols Field, where hundreds held a prayer vigil Sunday night."
PUBLISHED: Aug. 23, 2013
LENGTH: 15 minutes (3926 words)
This week's picks include stories from Salon, Esquire, VQR, Fast Company and D Magazine.