Archive - 2011

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Okay, if you are so smart: where was the Peace Corps Act Signed?
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Naming the Peace Corps
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Mike Meyer in China
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December 2010 Peace Corps Books
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RPCV Writers in the best travel writing for 2010
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Writer/Philosopher/Digital-Media Guru Denis Dutton (India 1966-68) Dies in New Zealand

Okay, if you are so smart: where was the Peace Corps Act Signed?

Thanks to Bob Chudy (Korea 1972-77) who told me this fact the act of signing the Peace Corps Bill took place at Hammersmith Farm, a Victorian mansion in Newport, Rhode Island. It was the childhood home of Jackie Kennedy, and where the wedding reception was held for JFK and Jaqueline Bouvier. During his presidency, Kennedy spent so much time at Hammersmith Farm that it was referred to as the “Summer White House.” In late  September 1961, during one of these stays, Kennedy signed Public Law 87-293, the Peace Corps Act of 1961.    

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Naming the Peace Corps

Those of us who follow the history of the Peace Corps agency know the term “peace corps” came to public attention during the 1960 presidential election. In one of JFK’s last major speeches before the November election he called for the creation of a “Peace Corps” to send volunteers to work at the grass roots level in the developing world. However, the question remains: who said (or wrote) “peace corps” for the very first time? Was it Kennedy? Was it his famous speech writer Ted Sorensen? Or Sarge himself? But – as in most situations – the famous term came about because of some young kid, usually a writer, working quietly away in some back office that dreams up the language. In this case the kid was a graduate student between degrees who was working for the late Senator Hubert Horatio Humphrey. Today, fifty years after the establishment of the . . .

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Mike Meyer in China

Michael Meyer (China 1995-97) author of The Last Days of Old Beijing: Life in the Vanishing Back Streets of a City Transformed had an op-ed in the New York Times on January 1, 2011. Mike is just back from China, living in New York, and he dropped me an email to say, “Just back from China this morning and had a great skate in the sun of Bryant Park. ” Ah, the writer’s life. China one day; the Big Apple the next. Here’s Mike’s piece on China’s Big Zhang. • January 1, 2011 China’s Big Zhang Harbin, China On the high-speed train from Beijing northeast to Harbin, passengers around me munch sweet popcorn and read books titled “Currency Wars,” “The Collapse of the Eurosystem,” and “The Upside of Irrationality.” Despite the raft of anti-inflationary measues introduced by the Chinese government in November, the lead article in the morning New Capital News . . .

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December 2010 Peace Corps Books

Weavings (Poetry) by Mary Ellen Branan (Poland 1994–96) Fairfield, Iowa: First World Publishing $15.95 74 pages December 2010 • The Piercing (E-book edition) by John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962–64) Necon E-Books $4.99 73,530 words December 2010 • The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution (1st U.S. edition) by Denis Dutton (India 1966-68) Bloomsbury Press $15.00 288 pages February 2010 • Forty Wolves (Novel) by Mark Jacobs (Paraguay 1978-80) Talisman House $19.95 256 pages June 2010 • The Nightingale of Mosul: A Nurse’s Journey of Service, Struggle, and War by Susan Luz (Brazil 1972-75) (with Marcus Brotherton) Kaplan Publishing $25.95 243 pages May 2010 • Labeled (Novel) by Mark Salvatore (Paraguay 1989–91) Create Space $9.99 (paper); $4.99 (ebook) 231 pages December 2010 • The Isthmus: Stories from Mexico’s Past 1495–1995 (Historical fiction) by Bruce Stores (Guatemala 1963-65) iUniverse $21.95 392 pages 2009 • 85 Days in Cuba: A True Story about . . .

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RPCV Writers in the best travel writing for 2010

Edited by Bill Buford The Best American Travel Writing 2010 published by Mariner came out in early September and I wanted to mention it now in the first day of 2011. Of the twenty-one essays, from three to sixty pages, we have three by RPCV writers. Peter Hessler (China 1996-98), “Strange Stones” is from The New Yorker and as always beautifully-written and detailed. His new book about China, Country Driving  is reflected in this work. Our second writer in the collection is George Packer (Togo 1982-83). His story from The New Yorker is entitled, “The Ponzi State,” and is about the Florida housing boom and bust. The third travel piece is Tom Bissell’s (Uzbekistan 1996-97), “Looking for Judas” that was published in the Virginia Quarterly Review and is about his off-the-beaten path in Jerusalem looking for THE spot where Judas killed himself, but mostly focuses on his impressions of well-armed . . .

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Writer/Philosopher/Digital-Media Guru Denis Dutton (India 1966-68) Dies in New Zealand

DENNIS DUTTON, A PCV IN INDIA and a distinguished philosopher, writer and digital-media guru  — he founded Arts & Letters Daily, one of the first Web sites to exploit the Internet — died on Tuesday in Christchurch, New Zealand. He was 66. The cause was prostate cancer. At his death, Dutton was a professor of philosophy at the University of Canterbury, in Christchurch, where he had taught since 1984. Arts & Letters was an aggregator that linked to a spate of online articles about literature, art, science and politics, and Dutton was one of the first people to recognize the power of the Web to facilitate intellectual discourse. In 2005 TIME Magazine describe him as being among “the most influential media personalities in the world.” Arts & Letters Daily, which was acquired by The Chronicle of Higher Education in 2002, currently receives about three million page views a month. Professor Dutton also attracted wide . . .

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