“A good rule of thumb is that if politicians are talking about the price of gas, they’re talking nonsense. This week is no exception.”-Matthew Yglesias, Slate Magazine

Gas prices are on the move in the wrong direction. Again. Here in North Carolina, the highest price I’ve seen is $3.75, but I’ve heard it’s gone up to $5.09 in Los Angeles. Ludicrous.

And of course, the price of oil is once again part of a major debate between politicians on Capitol Hill, who seem to always want to point fingers. Republicans blame President Obama and his tax and environmental policies for rising prices at the pump, while Obama blames tensions with Iran, and increasing demand from China, India, and other emerging economies.

According to Timothy Gardner, author of Diminishing Resources: Oil, this should not have been a surprise to politicians. He wrote, “Americans began to wonder what life after cheap oil looked like when rising global demand helped push oil prices to $147 per barrel in the summer of 2008, contributing to the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Drivers balked at the high prices and cut down on driving, which helped knock more than $100 a barrel off oil. But once the economy improves, analysts expect oil prices to head up.” They were right.

Fadel Gheit, senior energy analyst at Oppenheimer and Co., told NPR that the recent price increases can also be traced to the fact that the U.S. has shut down several oil refineries in the past three months.

The supply of gasoline has been declining. We have 700,000 barrels of refining capacity [that were shut down] in the last three months,” Gheit said. “That is almost 5 percent of U.S. gasoline production … now offline…. Because the global market is much more lucrative than the domestic market, for the first time in our history we are not importing gasoline. Not only are we not importing gasoline, we’re actually a net exporter of gasoline.”

Gardner, who writes about oil for Reuters news service, wrote in Diminishing Resources that Modern America was built on a supply of cheap oil.” It’s not cheap anymore. Now we have to pay the piper.

Adrianne Loggins
Associate Editor

For more information about oil in the U.S., check out Timothy Gardner’s Diminishing Resources: Oil (ISBN 9781599351179)

Published in: on February 24, 2012 at 1:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Happy Valentine’s Day

Clara Wieck

Clara Wieck lived in a time when courting and letters were a lover’s tools to woo.

In between writing musical compositions and going on tours around Europe as a young pianist, Clara fell in love.

Robert Schumann had been living in Clara’s house as a student of her father’s for years. But, as Sandra Shichtman and Dorothy Indenbaum wrote in The Joy of Creation: The Story of Clara Schumann, “[S]he was becoming a typical teenager…. Clara also began to show an interest in boys in general and one in particular–Robert Schumann.”

Robert Schumann

The idea of Clara’s focus being torn from her music unnerved her father, Friedrich Wieck. Wrote Shichtman and Indenbaum, “Perhaps she would not want to perform in the future, especially if she were to marry.”

And so Wieck decided to remove Clara from the situation. He sent her to study music in Dresden, Germany, while Robert stayed behind in Liepzig.

Shichtman and Indenbaum wrote:

While Clara was in Dresden, Robert began to go out with Ernestine von Fricken, a former student of Wieck’s who was now his wife’s student. Robert became secretly engaged to her in August 1834.

Clara was upset when she found out about the engagement. She had fallen in love with Robert. Now, he was engaged to marry someone else.

But the engagement did not last. When Ernestine’s father became ill in September, she returned home to care for him. While Ernestine was away from Leipzig, Robert became interested in Clara, who had returned from Dresden in July 1834. He decided to break off his engagement with Ernestine and courted Clara instead.

And so Clara and Robert began a courtship. A few months later, in November, Robert bestowed upon Clara a kiss, her first kiss.

“She was surprised and excited,” wrote Shichtman and Indenbaum. “She wrote to Robert, ‘When you gave me that first kiss, I thought I would faint; everything went blank and I could barely hold the lamp that was lighting your way out.'”

But Clara’s father was having none of it. He did not think Robert Schumann was good enough for his musical prodigy of a daughter. But Clara and Robert found ways to meet secretly. Wrote Shichtman and Indenbaum, “When Wieck found out, he threatened to shoot Robert if he ever approached Clara again.”

“It seemed Wieck had succeeded in keeping Clara and Robert apart permanently. But love would find a way.”

Clara and Robert had fallen in love, and they found a way to dupe her father. According to Shichtman and Indenbaum, they secretly exchanged letters.

“On August 14, 1837, the couple considered themselves engaged secretly and exchanged rings to commemorate the engagement.”

When Robert finally asked Wieck for Clara’s hand in marriage, Wieck refused.

“The battle lines were drawn between Wieck and the couple. It would become increasingly fierce and go on for two years.”

Adrianne Loggins
Associate Editor

Find out what happens between Clara and Robert: Check out The Joy of Creation: The Story of Clara Schumann by Sandra Shichtman and Dorothy Indenbaum (ISBN 9781599351230)

Published in: on February 14, 2012 at 10:56 am  Leave a Comment  
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NY Fashion Week 2012

Vera Wang once said, “Women are real works of art, and I try to remember that that’s what makes it worthwhile.” “It” being fashion design.

Thursday ushered in the beginning of New York’s Fashion Week. Loud music, high heels, flashing lights, and the world’s most famous designers’ 2012 collections.

Wang was one of twenty-seven designers to support President Obama at Runway to Win, a campaign fundraising initiative, according to NPR. The event occurred two days before opening day of Fashion Week.

Wang will be introducing her new line this week, along with other big fashion names  such as Ralph Lauren and Marc Jacobs. The event is scheduled to end on February 16.

Adrianne Loggins
Associate Editor

For information on these designers and other well-known fashion designers, check out the Profiles in Fashion series by Morgan Reynolds. (ISBN 9781599351490)

Also, check out Business Leaders: Ralph Lauren by Myra Weatherly. (ISBN 9781599350844)

Published in: on February 10, 2012 at 1:51 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Freedom and democracy are dreams you never give up.”-Aung San Suu Kyi

“Burma has a long and tortured history,” wrote Sherry O’Keefe in Champion of Freedom: Aung San Suu Kyi.

Much has changed in Burma (also known as Myanmar) over the course of the last century. It has been ruled by the British, then the Japanese, then it was taken over by General Ne Win and his military regime in 1962. All the while, the people of Burma have fought tooth and nail for democracy, and they have suffered for their efforts.

After the National League for Democracy (the NLD) was registered in Burma in 1988, the ruling military party, the State Law and Order Restoration Council (or the SLORC), attempted to censor and squash much of what the NLD was doing in order to maintain their control of the country. Censorship was not the worst of the NLD’s treatment, though. O’Keefe wrote:

They [the SLORC] apprehended the most loyal and able NLD supporters, usually students, and either imprisoned them or forced them to serve in ongoing wars against insurgent forces. While waiting to be shipped off to battlefronts, many students were subject to cruel forms of punishment, such as being stripped naked and herded around like animals. Others were brought to mine fields and forced to walk across them as human minesweepers.

But things have started to change for the small repressed country. Reuters reported, “While little has changed physically on Myanmar’s rutted streets, the government has seen a dramatic transformation the past six months. Last August, President Thein Sein, a former junta leader, stunned lawmakers in the capital Naypyitaw, urging them to pursue reforms, adopt good governance and do the unthinkable: freely voice opinions. Since then, hundreds of political prisoners have been freed.”

This past weekend, Burma and the rest of the world witnessed what seems to be democracy gaining another inch. Aung San Suu Kyi, beloved freedom-fighter and leader of the National League for Democracy, was, for the first time, allowed to openly move around the country campaigning for her party and its mission. Elections to Parliament are set to take place on April 1 of this year.

A year ago, that would have been “unthinkable,” the Associated Press reported. “The mere fact that Suu Kyi was able to speak openly in public… and her supporters were able to greet her en masse without fear of reprisal– was proof of dramatic progress itself.”

Suu Kyi told the burgeoning crowd of her supporters, “We will bring democracy to the country. We will bring rule of law . . . and we will see to it that repressive laws are repealed.”

Adrianne Loggins
Associate Editor

For more information about Aung San Suu Kyi and the history of Burma, check out Champion of Freedom: Aung San Suu Kyi by Sherry O’Keefe, a Morgan Reynolds title. (ISBN 9781599351681)

Published in: on February 2, 2012 at 11:20 am  Leave a Comment  
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