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D.G. Martin

Climbing a New Mountain Peak

“Life is like a mountain range,” Ping Fu told a group of UNC-Chapel Hill students last week. Fu is the founder of Geomagic, Inc., which developed the computer code that made 3-D printing possible. Earlier this year, she sold Geomagic to Spartanburg, S. C., based 3D Systems Corp., a manufacturer of 3-D printing machines, for a reported $55 million. Three-dimensional printing makes it possible to duplicate an object with the same ease that a laser printer copies a page from a book. It is changing the way we think about manufacturing. Using the proper computer directions for a 3-D...

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Lessons from Disney World for Obamacare

What does Disney World have to do with Obamacare? There is an answer, but you will have to read on a little bit to get there. First, there is this grandfather’s testimonial about a wonderful experience at Disney World last week. Watching grandchildren experience the magic of the Disney kingdom was a treat of a lifetime. Fun and exciting rides, a realistic safari experience, a rocket ship trip to Mars, a dramatic flight over California, a Star Wars space flight dodging the forces of the Empire and more. But it did not start out that way. At the check-in...

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“Turn the tape recorder back on”

William Friday has been dead a year now, and we still don’t know how we are going to get along without him.  He was a living monument to all that is, or was, right with our state. Optimism, confidence in the basic goodness of others, respect for those who disagreed, and a relentless commitment to the improvement of the health and opportunity for every North Carolinian were just some of the William Friday package that inspired so many of us. And we miss on UNC-TV his introductions on “North Carolina People” of folks he thought we ought to get...

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Always, Always, Follow The Money

What is the first rule of politics? “Follow the money,” says Mickey, a character in Robert Inman’s new book, “The Governor’s Lady.” It is a rule that we might overlook in a time when our politics seems to be defined by hard-line ideological differences. In fact, some of us would argue that following the money would be a fruitless diversion if we are searching for the real motivation of today’s political activists. Not Mickey. In Inman’s book, she is the mother of the new governor of an unnamed southern state. Mickey has been in politics all her life. She...

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Advice For The President from Pat Conroy’s Mom

What advice would author Pat Conroy’s late mother give President Obama in dealing with congressional Republicans over the government shutdown and debt ceiling crises? We get a clue in Conroy’s latest book, “The Death of Santini,” which comes out in a few days. Conroy describes his mother Peg’s likely reaction to a demand from Conroy’s sister, Carol, for $5,000 “or she would cut her throat.” “From mom,” Conroy writes, “Carol wouldn’t have gotten one nickel…. Peg would’ve laughed … and told Carol never to call her again with that line.” So, if his mother Peg thought the Republicans’ actions...

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Some Things Worse Than A Government Shutdown

How could it be worse? We ask ourselves this question as our government’s ability to lead our country disintegrates and we are mostly helpless to keep it from happening. Funny, though, that this concern can evaporate in light of the challenges that face so many of us–loss of job, no prospects for a new one, child in trouble, marriage in disarray, or the mental illness of a family member. Or take the case of the lead character of Lee Smith’s new book, “Guests on Earth,” in which a young person deals with her mental illness without the support and...

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Obama and McCrory In The Same Box

President Barack Obama and Governor Pat McCrory are in the same box. Criticized by their opponents for being radical and divisive, they are, at the same time, dismissed by partisans in their own political parties as too moderate and too accommodating. Both came into office promising, and genuinely aspiring, to bring a new spirit of conciliation and peace to a disrupted political order. Both hoped to bring an end to petty partisan divisiveness. Now both find themselves characterized as demons rather than healers. What happened? “There’s not a liberal America and a conservative America; there’s the United States of...

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Too Many Books, Not Enough Politics?

“Aren’t you writing about politics anymore?” a newspaper editor asked me the other day. I stuttered because I have been writing more about books than politics lately. The editor continued, “Are you a little gun-shy from that controversy about the column you wrote bringing Joseph Goebbels’s voice into North Carolina politics?” Maybe he has a point. Counting today, I have written five consecutive columns about books. One of them, however, Brandt Ayers’s “In Love with Defeat,” was about politics in Alabama and North Carolina. The others Marissa Pessl’s “Night Film,” Jason Mott’s “The Returned,” Alan Gurganus’s “Local Souls,” and...

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