Mason in the News

Posted: September 14, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Following are highlights of national news coverage George Mason recently received.

Friday, Sept. 7, Houston Chronicle

C-SPAN Libraries Series Opens Door to Presidential History

“Already tired of the 2008 presidential campaign? Remind yourself why it matters over the next 12 weeks. The C-SPAN series ‘Presidential Libraries: History Uncovered’ offers what presidential historian Richard Norton Smith predicts will be ‘a kind of history that people don’t get out of their textbooks.’ There will be a bit of spontaneity — the series broadcasts live from one presidential library each week, starting with the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library in West Branch, Iowa. Smith, who served as a consultant to the series, says it speaks to today’s presidential campaigns. ‘I think a lot of people are frustrated with the way we choose our presidents,’ he said this week. ‘It’s become so stylized, so theatrical. In some ways people feel democracy has become the prisoner of the handlers and the spin doctors and the image makers.’ Smith, now scholar-in-residence at George Mason University, previously served as director of presidential libraries honoring Hoover, Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford.”

Sunday, Sept. 9, New York Times

History’s Real Stuff (Sorry, Miss Grundy)

“A virtual boot camp with drill instructors and an M-16 laser-rifle range near Quantico, Va. A four-acre replica of George Washington’s working farm at Mount Vernon. And fantasy espionage at the International Spy Museum in downtown Washington. Learning about history has rarely been so much fun. Across the country, shiny new history museums are pushing up like poppies on a battlefield. Museum directors and curators increasingly sense opportunity — and profitability — in the low test scores that characterize Americans’ familiarity with their country’s history. ‘What do you call the high school history teacher?’ asked Roy Rosenzweig, a professor of history at George Mason University who directs the Center for History and New Media there. ‘Coach.’ Jokes aside, for ‘The Presence of the Past,’ his 1998 book with David Thelen, Mr. Rosenzweig asked nearly 1,500 people, ‘What word do you associate with history in high school?’ The No. 1 answer: ‘Boring.’ Yet Mr. Rosenzweig argues that if memorizing dates and place names hold little appeal, history museums still rate very highly with the American public. ‘What people say they’re excited about in terms of history museums is contact with real stuff of the past,’ he explained.”

Sunday, Sept. 9, New York Times

Myanmar Offers Rare Concessions to Political Protesters

“The authorities in Myanmar, apparently bowing to bad publicity, released a political prisoner on Friday. Myanmar’s iron-fisted military junta is not known for such conciliatory gestures. But it has been put on the defensive by an unusual campaign of public protests in the past three weeks, just as it is trying to portray itself to the world as a mature, democratically oriented military government. The junta has handled the protests carefully since they began last month. Some arrested protesters have been released and have reported that they were treated well. That contrasts with the military massacres that took thousands of lives during a major pro-democracy uprising in 1988. ‘One interpretation is that the state doesn’t want to take on these protests through its usual means, through violence and an indiscriminate crackdown, knowing that they have a broader international audience,’ said John Dale, a sociologist at George Mason University. The other interpretation is that the government is biding its time, as it did in 1988, before coming down very hard on protesters.”

Wednesday, Sept. 12, New York Times

First to Weigh In, and Taking It Seriously

“The outcry over the disproportionate influence New Hampshire and Iowa wield on the presidential nominating system is largely based on the contention that the two small states are demographically unrepresentative of the nation. Yet there is something, besides the small size of the stage here, that sets these two states apart and that seems truer than ever this year. Iowa and New Hampshire voters display an uncommon command of issues, a sophistication about the contest and its candidates, an understanding of history and an eagerness to participate that clearly sets them apart. Voters in New Hampshire historically turn out in much bigger numbers than in other states, said Michael McDonald, an associate professor of political science at George Mason University who has studied voter turnout. In New Hampshire, 44 percent of voters turned out the last time there were primaries in both parties, in 2000.”

Wednesday, Sept. 12, Washington Post

Cross-Training Your Brain to Maintain Its Strength

“Scientists seem to agree that at least four activities can defend the brain against age and disease — eating fresh fruits and vegetables, doing regular aerobic exercise, performing challenging mental tasks and engaging in social pursuits. Physical exercise and so-called brain food have long been regarded as good for mental health — exercise because it boosts blood circulation and gives the brain more oxygen; and foods rich in antioxidants, such as fish, fruits and vegetables, because the antioxidants attack cell-destroying agents. But more recent attention is being focused on brain exercise because neuroscientists have been making fresh discoveries as baby boomers, worried about approaching old age, watch closely. ‘No technology trend in fitness has gotten more media attention than cognition training,’ said Andrew Carle, a George Mason University professor who studies brain-training products. ‘What’s driving it is the jump we are seeing in Alzheimer’s, which is an age-related disease.’”

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