A&S in the News: August 20-26, 2017

The Alternative Right

‘Very fine people’ or white racists?: ‘Alt-right’ makes moves into the mainstreamAl.com – Aug. 20

Fascination about the “alt-right” has swelled in recent days, following violence in Charlottesville, Va., and President Donald Trump’s suggestions there were some “very fine people” at the demonstration who’ve been treated poorly by the media … Two University of Alabama political science professors are on the front line of analyzing the “alt-right,” short for the “alternative right,” the same group emboldened by Trump’s statements this week in which some say the president drew a moral equivalence between the fascists and non-fascists at the “United the Right” rally in Charlottesville.

Solar Eclipse

Look up! It’s eclipse dayTuscaloosa News – Aug. 21

Are there any local viewing events? The city of Tuscaloosa will host Solar-bration at Government Plaza from noon–2 p.m. Monday. Glasses will be available free for the first 500 attendees and food trucks will be on site. The University of Alabama physics and astronomy faculty and students are hosting a viewing of the eclipse. The event will be held on the Quad side of Gallalee Hall from noon-3 p.m. Monday. There will also be a general watch party on the Quad.

Nashville Zoo

At the Nashville Zoo, a teachable moment – as well as animalsWashington Post – Aug. 21

As the sun emerged from behind a cloud, Erik Peterson donned his eclipse glasses and directed his children’s eyes to the sky. “It’s started,” said an awed Peterson as he and his daughter Greta, 13, and son Will, 10, gazed at a sun slowly diminishing from its upper-right side. The Petersons were among the more than 5,800 visitors who filed into the Nashville Zoo as of noon Monday, with thousands more expected by the time totality began at about 1:30 p.m. . . . The Peterson children, meanwhile, were positively giddy in their eclipse T-shirts as they debated which animals they wanted to be near when totality hit. Their enthusiasm flowed from their father, a history of science professor at The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, who took them out of school for the day. “Humans have been interested in eclipses for thousands of years,” said Peterson, 42. “This is a moment in human history to pay attention to a phenomenon that connects us to all these events in the past.” Peterson’s history of science course begins with a discussion of eclipses and a Greek philosopher, Thales of Miletus, who is reported to have accurately predicted an eclipse in 585 B.C.

The Great Tribulation

UA religious studies professor says the solar eclipse may mean the end times for someCBS 42 (Birmingham) – Aug. 21

While many were having fun enjoying the solar eclipse, some Christians were taking this day much more seriously. According to a University of Alabama Religious Studies professor, for some Christians when the moon eclipses the sun and darkness washes over the land for a few short minutes, they say that spells the beginning of the end and the start of a tumultuous time in the Biblical apocalypse called the Great Tribulation.

Fake News

Technology enables ‘fake news.’ Can it help stop it, too?Extreme Tech – Aug. 21

In 1985, Neil Postman, in his now-prescient social commentary Amusing Ourselves to Death, compared the dystopian visions of George Orwell’s 1984 with Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World … A study by Richard Fording and Sanford Schram (political science professors at University of Alabama and Hunter College, respectively) analyzed the psychological profiles of voters and the “need for cognition.” They coined the term “low information voter,” who were voters who measured low in their knowledge of government and politics and questions like “thinking is not my idea of fun.”

Schools With Confederate Names

After Charlottesville, schools rethink Confederate namesPolitico – Aug. 21

Schools like Robert E. Lee Elementary in Dallas, Texas, and Stonewall Jackson High School in Manassas, Va., may get new names this fall. School officials nationwide are hearing calls from their communities to re-examine how they memorialize Confederate war figures in the anguished aftermath of the white supremacist demonstrations in Charlottesville, Va … It often takes events like the ones in Charlottesville to “bring back these conversations that should’ve been started earlier,” said Hilary Green, an assistant professor of history in the Department of Gender and Race Studies at The University of Alabama.

Renewable Energy Grant

UA receives renewable energy grantFox 6 (Birmingham) – Aug. 22

The University of Alabama is putting a new focus on renewable energy with a new grant. $50,000 from the National Science Foundation is paying for a seven week course at the Capstone that explores new ways to use renewable energy.
WSFA-NBC (Montgomery) – Aug. 23

Alabama Congressional Seat

State senator to challenge Brooks for congressional seatDecatur Daily – Aug. 23

Two-term state Sen. Bill Holtzclaw will challenge U.S. House member Mo Brooks for his congressional seat next year. . . . “He’s worked very hard as an incumbent representative covering his district and maintaining his ties with the communities in his district,” said Bill Stewart, the retired head of the political science department at The University of Alabama. “I don’t see him having any trouble returning to his U.S. House seat.”

Prison Populations

Poor, rural and addicted: Drug drive surge in white women in prisonAl.com – Aug. 23

Monica Graves, 30, had Friday morning off, and a laundry list of things to do before her daughter’s 16th birthday party on Saturday. She needed trash bags to black out the windows at the party venue in Sumiton, decorations her daughter had requested. She also wanted to buy a gift for the girl – a small cross on a necklace … Graves found many women like herself inside the prison: poor, rural and addicted. Many, like her, also had children back at home. About 75 percent of women in prison in Alabama are the primary caretakers of children, compared to just 4 percent of the men, according to Jennifer Kenney, criminal justice professor at The University of Alabama. “Women really are the fastest-growing prison population,” Kenney said. “And the primary driver is the war on drugs.”

Enrollment Growth

UA begins fall semester WednesdayFox 6 (Birmingham) – Aug. 23

Wednesday begins the start of the fall semester at The University of Alabama. Official enrollment numbers are not available until after the start of school. However, UA has experienced steady enrollment growth for more than the past decade. Fall 2016 enrollment reached an all-time high of 37,665 students. Of those students, 53 percent were from out of state.
WVUA (Tuscaloosa) – Aug. 23
WDFX-Fox (Dothan) – Aug. 23
ABC 33/40 (Birmingham) – Aug. 23
CBS 42 (Birmingham) – Aug. 23
WSFA-NBC (Montgomery) – Aug. 23
WTOC 11 (Savannah, Georgia) – Aug. 23

Ancient Floods

To aid utilities, researchers seek ancient floods near Tennessee RiverPhys.org – Aug. 23

With funding from energy utilities, a team of researchers at The University of Alabama are collaborating with peers across the Southeast to understand the frequency and possible size of floods along the Tennessee River that pre-date reliable weather and streamflow records. With a better understanding of floods from the past 10,000 years, utilities can better prepare for historic natural disasters that could threaten dams and nuclear plants in and around the Tennessee River, said Dr. Lisa Davis, UA associate professor of geography, who leads the research team on this project.

Visiting Writers Series

Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood

World-renowned writer to speak in TuscaloosaTuscaloosa News – Aug. 23

World-renowned writer Margaret Atwood will return to Tuscaloosa at 7 p.m. Nov. 14 for a reading at the Bama Theatre. Admission is free, as part of The University of Alabama’s Visiting Writers Series, through the College of Arts and Sciences. One of Atwood’s best-known novels is “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which was in progress when she served a residency as honorary chair of UA’s master of fine arts creative writing program in 1985.

Mobile Mayor

Re-elected Mayor Sandy Stimpson pledges to bridge racial divide in Alabama’s fourth-largest cityAl.com – Aug. 23

Sandy Stimpson pledged to “unite” Alabama’s fourth-largest city after winning re-election as mayor on Tuesday, but an analysis of voting returns shows Mobile remains deeply divided politically … “I think that polarization at the local level is a microcosm of national gridlock,” said William Stewart, a professor emeritus of political sciences at The University of Alabama and a longtime observer of Alabama politics. “Black and white interests seem to be moving further apart rather than closer together.”

Birmingham City Council

Voters sent clear message to mayor, council presidentBirmingham Times – Aug. 23

Birmingham voters on Tuesday sent a signal that while they want to keep most of the city council members who currently occupy seats behind the dais, they’re less sure about the council president or the mayor … Turnout mattered “both in the sense of low turnout but also in the sense of who turned out,” said The University of Alabama political science professor Dr. Allen Linken.

Archaeology Dig in Peru

APSU history graduate student Katelynn DiStefano takes part in archaeology dig in PeruClarksville Online (Tennessee) – Aug. 23

Archeology may not be a career Austin Peay State University history graduate student Katelynn DiStefano is pursuing academically, but that did not stop the graduate assistant in the University’s Department of History and Philosophy from spending part of her summer searching for mummies along the northern coast of Peru … DiStefano joined The University of Alabama Ph.D. student Jenna Hurtubise, along with a small group of students and archeologists, in traveling to the South American country, where they continued Hurtubise’s work in excavating and analyzing the history of the Casma, an underexplored ancient Peruvian culture.

First Friday

First Friday event has new websiteTuscaloosa News – Aug. 23

A new website focuses on First Friday, downtown Tuscaloosa’s monthly arts and entertainment event … First Friday participants encourage patrons to visit other galleries and businesses within walking distance on the Art Walk. Galleries on the Art Walk include the Arts Council and The University of Alabama Galleries at the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center, The Paul R. Jones Gallery of Art, Harrison Galleries, O’Connor Art Studios and Grace Aberdean Habitat Alchemy.

Joyce Stallworth

My view from the other side of Trump’s wallAl.com – Aug. 23

After 26 years of traveling internationally, I know unequivocally that travel engenders flexibility, adaptability, resiliency, and empathy inside of those who visit other places and meet other people. (By B. Joyce Stallworth, Ph.D., who retired from The University of Alabama in 2016. Until then, she served as the associate provost for special projects and as a professor of English education.)

New College Lifetrack

University of Alabama offers New College Lifetrack (Live Interview)ABC 33/40 – Aug. 24

I’m here to talk about something that is going on at The University of Alabama. It’s actually located right here in the heart of Tuscaloosa and attracts thousands of students every year. The University also has courses for students who need more flexibility, specifically adults. I am joined by Ana Schuber and Shaun Castle to talk more about the New College Lifetrack program.

Hurricane Harvey

UA professor discusses Hurricane HarveyWVUA (Tuscaloosa) – Aug. 25

Topping the news this evening, the weather event that everyone is talking about, Hurricane Harvey. We’re joined now by University of Alabama professor Jason Senkbeil by phone. He is currently in Texas awaiting the hurricane’s arrival.

Patricia Sobecky
Dr. Patricia Sobecky

Alabama Water Institute

UA names water institute leaderTuscaloosa News – Aug. 26

A University of Alabama microbiologist has been chosen to lead the campus’ newly launched Alabama Water Institute. Patricia Sobecky, UA associate provost for academic affairs and professor of biological sciences, will lead the interdisciplinary research institute, which was formally established by the UA System board of trustees in February.

Fulbright Semifinalist

FHSU graduate student, a Fulbright semifinalist, headed for study in UKHays Post (Kansas) – Aug. 26

It’s a long way from looking for fossils in the gravel on an Alabama road to studying for a Ph.D. in paleontology at the University of Bristol, United Kingdom, but that’s exactly the path that James Logan King is traveling, with a brand new M.S. in geosciences from Fort Hays State University … However, without an early mentor, Dr. Fred Andrus of the University of Alabama, King’s path to doctoral studies would have been cut short. “I had a very colorful undergraduate career that was productive for my introduction to research but borderline disastrous for the rest of my classes,” he said.