Lunch Links

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Looking for a break from the headlines dominating your workday? Weary from breaking news about March Madness, Malaysia Flight 370, Hobby Lobby and Obamacare at the Supreme Court?

Here’s a few fun, quirky, noteworthy and just plain happy bits to chew on during your Hump Day lunch break.

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Tiles In a rare showing of bipartisan cooperation, support in Congress is growing for the building of a national museum on women on or near the National Mall, the New York Times reports today.

Both the Senate and the House of Representatives have passed versions of legislation in support of such a museum over the last decade, but never during the same Congress. Some have raised doubts about whether supporters could come up with the estimated $500 million needed to build it.

“I don’t know of a national museum anywhere in any of the capitals of the world that chronicles the achievements of women,” Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York said. “I find that astonishing.”

The group pushing the project said that it had already raised $14 million for the museum.

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smileyEver wonder where emoji — those cute, quirky pictures that show up in texts and tweets — come from?  The Wall Street Journal has the answer, along with a graphic that has everything you’ve ever wanted to know about those little characters.

Spoiler alert: It turns out there really is an emoji “governing body” of sorts.

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Per this piece in Salon, fans of the long-running television series “The Office” can now while away their workday hours viewing “The Office Time Machine,” an online catalog of every cultural reference ever made in episodes of the show.

There’s more to the compendium than just fun, though, creator Joe Sabia said:

I created this project to advocate for copyright reform and highlight the importance of fair use in protecting creators and their art. To prove culture is not only everywhere, but that certain references to films, songs, and works of art are critical for our collective understanding of comedy and to the importance of relating to content, I found every cultural, real-life reference from every episode of The Office.

Here’s a clip of references from 1993:

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No, it’s not necessarily new (now playing on YouTube with more than 140 million views), or offbeat (you’ll see plenty during March Madness coverage), but the Pharrell Williams video “Happy” is just that, and a great way to get over the hump today.

 

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Happy Wednesday!

Happy Monday! Well, perhaps ‘happy’ is not the right word if your NCAA bracket included Duke, UNC, NC State, or NCCU advancing to the Sweet 16. And with Warren Buffet’s billion dollar wager safe until next year, all that’s left is to enjoy the Big Dance’s Best Dances.

So what’s on tap this week other than NCAA hoops action? Plenty!

The State Board of Elections meets this afternoon to consider, among other things, proposals from local boards that are essentially suppressing the vote by compacting the calendar. If you missed this story earlier, be sure to read Sharon McCloskey’s piece on what’s at stake.

This evening in Iredell County, Governor Pat McCrory will speak at the Statesville Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Meeting. The NC NAACP along with the Forward Together Movement will also be on hand, staging the latest Moral Monday demonstration to protest the governor’s policies and the impact on the state’s most vulnerable residents.

On Tuesday the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments regarding birth control and the Affordable Care Act. Pro-choice advocates from North Carolina will be traveling to the nation’s capital and rallying outside the High Court from 8:30 a.m. until noon. The Washington Post has everything you need to know about the Hobby Lobby case.

Wednesday, Dean Baker, one of America’s leading economists, will speak at NC Policy Watch’s monthly Crucial Conversation. Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research and will sort fact from fiction about our economic outlook.

If you missed it over the weekend, make sure you listen to our recent interview with PolicyLink founder and CEO Angela Glover Blackwell as she discusses building an equitable economy and strengthening the Earned Income Tax Credit. Click below to hear her thoughts on increasing the minimum wage. The full radio interview can be downloaded here.

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Today’s ‘must read’ is a special report from Politico that details the increasing use of taxpayer dollars to teach creationism in the classroom. Here’s an excerpt:

‘Taxpayers in 14 states will bankroll nearly $1 billion this year in tuition for private schools, including hundreds of religious schools that teach Earth is less than 10,000 years old, Adam and Eve strolled the garden with dinosaurs, and much of modern biology, geology and cosmology is a web of lies.

…the more striking shift in public policy has flown largely under the radar, as a well-funded political campaign has pushed to open the spigot for tax dollars to flow to private schools. Among them are Bible-based schools that train students to reject and rebut the cornerstones of modern science.’

If you happen to be in Greensboro Thursday, Common Cause will be showing “State of Conflict North Carolina” – veteran journalist Bill Moyers’ documentary on the conservative takeover of North Carolina politics. The showing will take place at 7:00 p.m. at the Congregational United Church of Christ, 400 West Radiance Drive in Greensboro and will be followed by a panel discussion.

Should you need something to lift your spirits after all that, we’ll close out Lunch Links with some classic Elton John. Sir Elton turns 67 on Tuesday – and what better way to celebrate than with a few Muppets, a fabulous headdress, and a little Crocodile Rock:YouTube Preview Image

(Jeffrey A. Camarati/WRAL Contributor) Photographer: Jeff Camara

 

St. Patrick’s Day celebrations started early here in Raleigh with the annual parade on Saturday, but the revelry continues today with plenty of parades, pints and parties, and  green everywhere —  in our bagels, in our beer and in our water.

Largely the creation of Irish-Americans, the day has moved beyond a simple celebration of an Irish saint and become more of a way to raise a glass in honor of those with roots in Irish soil. Sláinte (the Irish word, pronounced SLAN-cha, for “health”)!

Of course the real St. Patrick wasn’t even Irish by birth.  Rather, according to this report, he was born in Britain around A.D. 390 “to an aristocratic Christian family that owned a townhouse, a country villa, and plenty of slaves.” At 16, he was  kidnapped and sent to Ireland as a slave.  He then escaped to home seven years later only to return to Ireland where he began converting folks to Christianity. Legend has it that Patrick used the three leaves of a shamrock to explain the Christian holy trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

It’s not all booze and blarney, though, and plenty of folks take the opportunity to show solidarity with ethnic and other groups and to remind people of lessons learned from the immigrant experience.

The mayors of  New York and Boston, for example, are boycotting their cities’ parades because of bans on gay marchers.

In Washington, D. C. ,  delegates from the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform — wearing t-shits with the words “No Irish Need Apply?  Why?” – met with key House members, including all GOP members of the Judiciary and GOP Leadership, to “remind them of what’s at stake for the Irish-American community.” In several North Carolina GOP districts, Irish-Americans represent a sizeable chunk of the population, including 13.3% in Rep. George Holding’s district and 11.2% in Rep. Howard Coble’s district.

And in the New York Times this weekend, writer Timothy Egan derided U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan and fellow colleagues of Irish descent on the Hill for invoking their heritage when convenient, but overlooking the atrocities that sent their ancestors across the ocean:

Ryan boasts of the Gaelic half of his ancestry, on his father’s side. “I come from Irish peasants who came over during the potato famine,” he said last year during a forum on immigration.

BUT with a head still stuffed with college-boy mush from Ayn Rand, he apparently never did any reading about the times that prompted his ancestors to sail away from the suffering sod. Centuries of British rule that attempted to strip the Irish of their language, their religion and their land had produced a wretched peasant class, subsisting on potatoes. When blight wiped out the potatoes, at least a million Irish died — one in eight people.

[Yet] in 2012, Ryan said that the network of programs for the American poor made people not want to work.

On Wednesday, he went further, using the language of racial coding. This, after he told a story of a boy who didn’t want his free school lunch because it left him with “a full stomach and an empty soul.” The story was garbage — almost completely untrue.

Apparently Ryan and his friends are unable to walk the talk of those who came before them.

And with that, we segue out of Lunch Links with a far better walk, with Irishmen and bagpipes. . .

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Did you know today is Pi Day? I plan to celebrate by eating a piece of pie, but others around the country are doing it a little differently.

Congress designated March 14 as National Pi Day in 2009. The resolution the House passed “encourages schools and educators to observe the day with appropriate activities that teach students about Pi and engage them about the study of mathematics.”

For those of you who have forgotten, Pi is the ration of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, or 3.14 plus an infinite amount of numbers beyond that decimal point. It’s also Albert Einstein’s birthday.

Looks like one Wake County public school has the right idea combining math + cookies to celebrate Pi Day:

USA Today reports that in Massachusetts, Raytheon Company employees will deliver apple pies to middle and high school math teachers within 3.14 miles of company offices in Arizona, California, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts and Virginia.

If you’re keen on celebrating Pi Day like me, with a slice of pie, then check out this story on the examiner.com, where you’ll find a list of local restaurants offering delicious pies.

And if you’re actually in a baking mood, here are six of your favorite authors’ favorite pie recipes. Willa Cather’s Gooseberry Pie is calling my name.

 

Zach Galifianakis

Zach Galifianakis

What makes this worth watching is that North Carolina man happens to be  Zach Galifianakis, the comedian who grew up in Wilkesboro and owns a farm in Alleghany County. (His uncle Nick Galifianakis of Durham also served in Congress from 1967 and 1973.)

Galifianakis, who also attended N.C. State University,  “interviewed” President Barack Obama for his “Between Two Ferns” series he does of a spoof cable-access talk show he does for Funnyordie comedy website.

Obama came on to plug Healthcare.gov and ends up dodging questions about his birth certificate and the NSA.

Go ahead and watch, if you haven’t already: