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D.G. Martin

Sealing family ties with dripping red wax

On the second weekend of June, people in Louisville, Kentucky, laid to rest two leading citizens. One of them, of course, was Muhammad Ali, buried on June 10. The other, my cousin Boyce F. Martin Jr., was buried the next day. Recently retired, he was for many years chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which covers Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, and Tennessee. He died of brain cancer on June 1. He wrote hundreds of important opinions on topics such as the death penalty, abortion, and the Affordable Care Act. And affirmative action, as last...

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Books for summer: Mountains and Military

If you want some more tips for good summer reading from recent books by North Carolina authors, I have four suggestions, two set in the mountains, two about our military. An obvious choice if you are planning a trip to the mountains is Randy Johnson’s book, “Grandfather Mountain: The History and Guide to an Appalachian Icon” published this month by UNC Press. It is a superb history and collection of photos that capture the majesty of this national treasure. North Carolina is blessed with a host of wonderful and beautiful mountains. Grandfather, though not the highest, is the most...

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Voting for the devil?

“You would vote for the devil if he were a Democrat, wouldn’t you?” Thus begins an old story that makes fun of an old-time party-loyal, “yellow-dog” Democrat. His friend was teasing him about his unwillingness ever to stray from his party’s candidates even if they were obviously unsuited to hold public office. “Well,” the yellow-dog responded after thinking it over, “I wouldn’t vote for the devil in the primary.” That yellow-dog faced a dilemma, choosing between party loyalty and a moral obligation to withhold support from his party’s unworthy candidate. He justified his reluctant decision to vote for the...

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Putting Trump aside; remembering Ali and Patt Derian

The death of Muhammad Ali last week took away Donald Trump’s monopoly of television news coverage, at least for a time. There was some irony, of course, as the “I am the greatest” clips from Ali replaced similar campaign assertions by Trump. Ali and Trump are certainly the two most unapologetic and unabashed public proclaimers of their own superiority in my lifetime. Ali was an extraordinary boxing champion, almost as great as he said he was. However, what made him an historical figure and earned our enduring respect was not his talk or boxing. It was his courageous confrontation...

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A jackass or a carpenter?

“Any jackass can kick a barn down, but it takes a carpenter to build one.” Using a saying from UNC President Margaret Spellings’s native Texas, one attributed to Sam Rayburn, the long-time speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Tom Lambeth was beginning his tribute to Spellings’s predecessor, Tom Ross. In an evening filled with irony, Spellings and the UNC Board of Governors, with genuine grace, hosted a dinner last Thursday honoring Ross with the university’s highest award, the University Award. The words describing Ross’s leadership and demeanor as a judge, foundation executive, and higher education leader contrasted profoundly...

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Get to Ayden before it’s too late

Can a Louisiana food writer tell us something about North Carolina barbecue that we did not already know? Rien Fertel gives it a good try in his new book, “The One True Barbecue: Fire, Smoke, and the Pitmasters Who Cook the Whole Hog.” Fertel caught the “whole-hog” bug in Tennessee, where a restaurant owner and pitmaster named Ricky Parker introduced him to the world of tending burning coals under 200-pound hogs all night long. Parker told Fertel that he was married to his pit more than he had been married to any of his wives. Parker said, “If they...

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The next big high-tech product: Why Concord?

Why would Alevo, a European company seeking to develop and manufacture a powerful groundbreaking battery, choose Concord, North Carolina, as the site of its operations, rather than some other place anywhere in the world? There are several answers to this question that I will share in a minute, but first some background about Alevo and its battery. Alevo is producing a lithium-ion battery. Other lithium-ion batteries provide the power for electric-powered and hybrid automobiles. But Alevo’s product is different. It has the ability to charge and discharge electricity rapidly and multiple times, without the risk of overheating or burning....

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Finding our way out of a locked bathroom

What can we do about House Bill 2? Polls show North Carolinians divided about the new law. Answers to polling questions depend upon how the questions are asked. Most North Carolinians, even supporters of transgender rights, do not want men to barge into women’s bathrooms. And most, even those who disagree with the lifestyles of gay and transgender people, do not want our state to discriminate against them. Some politicians in both parties think the controversy will help them at election time. As former Gov. Jim Martin wrote recently, “The political reality is that this works great for both...

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Summer reading and lessons about campus names and renaming

What can Yale University teach UNC-Chapel Hill and other universities about naming and renaming college buildings and programs? What does Yale’s solution have to do with North Carolina and one of the books I recommend for early summer reading? Yale divides its undergraduates into separate colleges, where they live and eat together over four years. The colleges are named after important historical figures with some connection to Yale. For instance, Calhoun College is named for Yale alumnus John C. Calhoun, a vice president of the U.S. during the presidency of Andrew Jackson and a brilliant defender of slavery. Because...

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Groping and hoping: Why John Hart is so good and why the latest book took so long to write

Can’t we just find something that we can agree upon? Thrown into a silly unnecessary bathroom dispute that has brought unwelcome international attention, good North Carolinians of all ideological, religious, and political persuasions would like to have something that brings them together. It happens on May 3 with the release of John Hart’s latest literary thriller, “Redemption Road.” Residents of Hart’s hometown get the jump on the rest of us this Saturday (April 30) when he returns to Salisbury to talk about his book and distribute copies to old friends. Hart flashed onto the literary scene about 10 years...

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