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Smart talk, May 21

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HOW HEIFER WORKS: A schoolchild examines a model of a tropical farmstead in the new Heifer Village, a museum created by Heifer International to explain its work in the world. Exhibits address Heifer solutions to developing-nation needs such as clean water, electric light and food. The museum’s grand opening will be held June 5-7; Partners In Health co-founder Paul Farmer will speak at the dedication at 10 a.m. June 5.
  • HOW HEIFER WORKS: A schoolchild examines a model of a tropical farmstead in the new Heifer Village, a museum created by Heifer International to explain its work in the world. Exhibits address Heifer solutions to developing-nation needs such as clean water, electric light and food. The museum’s grand opening will be held June 5-7; Partners In Health co-founder Paul Farmer will speak at the dedication at 10 a.m. June 5.

Turn the page

 

While it's looking as if the Internet is going to render obsolete the tired old business of staring at collections of tiny black ink marks on compressed wood pulp — we called them “books” in my day, kids —  you whippersnappers with your Kindles will get our marked-up, dog-eared  copies of “Catcher in the Rye” and “Moby Dick” and “Leaves of Grass”  when you pry them from our cold, dead, slightly ink-stained fingers. Imagine our gut-wrenching sense of delight and disgust then, when we ran across the massive archive of old books catalogued at www.archive.org/details/texts.

Featuring the full texts of over 1.2 million books (and counting) from libraries all over America — some of them typed out in PDF form, but most photographed leaf by leaf with a robotic page-flipping camera — the website allows for the best (or at least a good bit) of both worlds: the instant search-and-retrieve functions of an electronic document, but the creamy yellow paper and block-laid type of an old book. Visitors can even “flip through” the book with a digital finger. The old tome smell is — sadly — not included.

A search for “Arkansas” at the site yields around 420 texts, everything from a copy of the Arkansas Elevator code from the 1930s to a survey of the state performed by the Presbyterian Church in 1913. Check it out (or, as an alternative, walk to the library for a little non-virtual reality).

 

He could be a contender

 

Will Mike Huckabee become the top dog of the Religious Right? The question is raised in a cover article in the May issue of “Church and State,” the magazine of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a group that is what it says. With Jerry Falwell dead, James Dobson moving toward retirement, and people like Pat Robertson and Phyllis Schlafly slowing down, “many wonder who will fill the Religious Right's Bully Pulpit,” the magazine says. It lists pros and cons for several possibilities, including Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, Rick Warren and Sarah Palin. Of Huckabee, the magazine says that he “gives a stem-winding speech and is savvy enough to know the ins and outs of national politics.” But on the other hand, it says that many political pundits expect Huckabee to run for president again in 2012, and leadership of the Religious Right would be a poor platform for a serious presidential candidate.

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