Man On Roof Of C’boro Hampton Inn

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 printer, you can make spare parts for critical but distant machines.

Back in 1997, soon after first hearing about 3-D printing, Ping Fu decided immediately that she wanted to be a part of the revolution such machines would bring.

In trying to persuade others to invest in her new company, she described the potential of the three-dimensional printing process by asking her listeners to imagine a microwave-oven-shaped box and a similar box many miles away. By placing an object in the first box and pressing a button that scans the object, the information is sent to the far-away box, where the transmitted information guides the making of a duplicate.

Early on, she saw the potential of “personal fabrication” or localized manufacturing.

She founded Geomagic to turn ideas into reality, and moved the company to North Carolina’s Research Triangle in 1999.

Geomagic’s first major client was NASA, scanning tiles on the space shuttle so that damaged tiles could be evaluated, duplicated, and replaced in space. The process was covered by CNN, and when it was broadcast in China, Ping Fu’s father, having seen the report, declared to his daughter by telephone from China, “I’m so proud of you.”

Other uses for the 3D printing process enable orthodontists to develop a teeth-straightening plan for teenagers to have a series of devices manufactured by 3-D printing specifically for each patient’s mouth.

“American workers,” Ping Fu told the students, “need to be committed to learn that the future of manufacturing is hyper-local.”

Ping Fu pointed to her stylish shoes that had been made by a 3-D printer. The shoes were molded to fit her foot with her choice of colors. They could be made to order on site in a shoe store that would never have to stock anything that was not going to be sold the same day.

Since the sale of Geomagic, Ping Fu has become vice president and chief strategy officer for 3D Systems. The operations of the former Geomagic remain in North Carolina, but she travels around the world on behalf of her new employer, inspiring co-workers, customers, and potential partners to join the localized manufacturing revolution.

Now, why does she say life is like a mountain range?

Like following the crest of a mountain range from one peak to another, says Ping Fu, if you are going forward to the next peak, you have to go down before you can go up again.

To go forward in life and reach a new goal, she told the students, “You may have to take a job that pays less or one where your title is lower.”

In her journey from the oppression of the Chinese Cultural Revolution to great success as an American business leader, Ping Fu’s life has had its peaks and valleys, all related in greater detail in her memoir Bend, Not Break: A Life in Two Worlds, which comes out in paperback next month.

Ping Fu says the best advice she ever got was to seek more to be interested than to be interesting. Great advice, but hard for her to follow when her story is so important, so inspiring, and so interesting.

http://chapelboro.com/columns/one-on-one/climbing-a-new-mountain-peak/

Allan Gurganus is Back… With a Bang

Say Allan Gurganus’s name in a group of readers, and several may tell you that the Rocky Mount native’s “Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All” is their favorite novel of all time.

“Widow” came out in 1989, followed in 1990 by “Plays Well with Others.” Then there were a couple of short story collection, including “White People,” but no other new books from Gurganus in many years.

So, what has he been doing? “Writing, every day,” he says, “and getting up at 6 a.m. to do it.”

Finally, next week we can buy and read a new Gurganus book, one that takes us back to the fictional eastern North Carolina town of Falls, where “Widow” and many of his short stories have been set.

“Local Souls” is not a novel, but three separate novellas. All are set in Falls, but the characters and stories are independent and quite different.

Susan, the main character in the first novella, “Fear Not,” is a 14-year-old all-American girl growing up in Falls when her father dies in a boating accident. Seduced and made pregnant by her godfather, she gives up her baby, pulls her life together, later marries, has two children, and leads a normal life until she is reunited with the child she gave up. Then her life is transformed in a surprising and puzzling way, one that only Gurganus could conjure up.

In the second novella, “Saints Have Mothers,” a divorced woman, smart and ambitious enough to have published a poem in The Atlantic magazine, has two boys and a 17-year-old girl. The daughter is more committed to serving those in need than she is to her mother. But her mother’s life is wrapped up in hopes for her daughter’s future. When the daughter announces that she plans to go to Africa on a service project, the mother objects. But the daughter goes anyway. Communication with her daughter is spotty until a middle of the night phone call brings word of the daughter’s death. As the mother and the Falls community prepare for a memorial service, Gurganus brings the story to a shocking and touching conclusion.

The third novella, “Decoy,” is the history of a relationship between two men. One is a beloved family doctor, part of an established Falls family. The other is a newcomer, who came from the poverty of struggling farm life, but has achieved modest financial success and near acceptance by Falls’s elite. When the doctor retires, their friendship is disturbed and then swept away by a “Fran-like” flood that destroys both men’s homes and much of Falls.

With these three stories, Gurganus demonstrates that he has not lost the story-telling power that propelled him to fame.

And he leaves us hoping that we will not have to wait so long for his next offering.

Others agree. John Irving, author of “The World According to Garp,” writes, “Gurganus’s storytelling is flawless. His narration becomes a Greek chorus, Sophocles in North Carolina. Gurganus makes the preternatural feel natural. Sexual taboos, a parent’s worst fears: these emerge in tones comic and horrifying. Each novella delivers an ending of true force.”

Ann Patchett, author of “Bel Canto” and a former student of Gurganus, says he “breathes so much life into the town of Falls, North Carolina, his reader is able to walk down the streets and mingle with the local souls. This book underscores what we have long known—Gurganus stands among the best writers of our time.”

More important than this praise, Gurganus’s fiction gives us a true look at our fellow North Carolinians in a struggling region as they cope with the challenges of contemporary times.

D.G. Martin’s 97.9FM WCHL show runs on Saturday and Sunday at 5 a.m. and 6 a.m., noon and 1 p.m, and 9 p.m. and 11 p.m (archives for his show can be found here). You can find D.G.’s WCHL notebook audio here, as well as all of his Chapelboro.com columns here.

D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” which airs Sundays at noon and Thursdays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV. For more information or to view prior programs visit the webpage at www.unctv.org/ncbookwatch.

This week’s (September 22, 26) features “Bob Garner’s Book of Barbecue: North Carolina’s Favorite Food” and the guest is the popular Bob Garner himself.

Think about Bob Garner and then see if you can say “barbecue” without your mouth all watering and wanting to say, “This is to die for.” His book is a great compilation of our state’s barbecue traditions, legends, and real history. It includes a list with background information about more than a hundred of the state’s best barbecue restaurants. What might be even better that his book is watching Garner talk about his own barbecue experiences cooking, visiting, and checking out every important North Carolinian barbecue shrine.

The program will also air at Wednesday, September 25, at 11 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on UNC-MX, a digital cable system channel (Time Warner #172 or #4.4). In addition, airing at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday on UNC-MX will be a classic Bookwatch program featuring Quinn Dalton, author of “Bulletproof Girl.”

A grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council provides crucial support for North Carolina Bookwatch.

http://chapelboro.com/columns/one-on-one/allan-gurganus-is-back-with-a-bang/

The Making of a Southern Liberal

158838277XWhat is the dilemma that haunts every Southerner who confesses he or she is a liberal?

For Brandt Ayers in his new book, “In Love With Defeat: The Making of a Southern Liberal,” it is this: his progressive views set him apart from many of his fellow Southerners, whose culture and basic values he respects and shares. At the same time, this attachment to his Southern heritage sets him apart from non-Southerners who share his basic political views but cannot understand his attachment to the positive features of Southern culture.

The Ayers family publishes the Anniston, Ala., Star newspaper. Like the Hodding Carter family’s Delta Democrat-Times in Greenville, Miss., and the Neil Davis family’s newspaper in Auburn, Ala., the Ayers’s Anniston Star pushed for racial tolerance, fair treatment, and opportunity for blacks when the majority of their readers were committed to preserving the Deep South culture that Gov. George Wallace called “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”

There are North Carolina connections to these families. Hodding Carter III and three of Neil Davis’s children live in North Carolina. Brandt Ayers’s wife, Josephine, grew up in Raleigh, the granddaughter of Gov. J.C.B. Ehringhaus, and they have a second home here.

Although Ayers worked at his family’s newspaper as a teenager, he got his professional journalism start with the Raleigh Times in 1959. While in North Carolina he admired Gov. Luther Hodge’s successes in attracting business, handling the challenge of court-ordered school desegregation, and promoting the Research Triangle Park. Ayers also observed Terry Sanford’s victory over staunch segregationist I. Beverly Lake in the 1960 Democratic primary and Sanford’s push for educational improvement and racial tolerance.

Ayers remembers hearing from many in our state “a self-conscious phrase: ‘North Carolina is a vale of humility between two mounds [sic] of conceit.’ It finally dawned on me that Tar Heels are mighty cocky about their humility.”

Upon his return to Alabama, Ayers used the positive accomplishments of Hodges and Sanford in North Carolina to contrast with the failures of Alabama leaders like George Wallace.

Under Ayers’s father, Col. Harry Ayres, the Anniston Star had developed a progressive stance. The Star was the first newspaper in the South to endorse Franklin Roosevelt for president.

When Brandt Ayers returned home to work at the Star, he led Anniston’s efforts not to be like Montgomery, Selma, or Birmingham, where racial turmoil engulfed communities and made reconciliation problematical.

While “In Love With Defeat” is a personal memoir, it is also an exploration of the transformation of the South from a region of racism and poverty to what it is today.

Ayers writes that some things, good and bad, about the old South have been preserved. “The glue that held the old, segregated civilization together, which binds our society today, is the sameness of everyday life: workday rituals, habits of civility, conformity to the norm, ambivalence, indifference, and resignation. There were bitter-end haters, but it is remarkable how light was the hold of the haters on the rest of us.”

At the end of his book Ayers is still caught between his liberal leanings and his identification with Southerners who do not share those views.

“Morally, millions of white Southerners would have to confess they recoil at the idea of being governed by a black man. However, partially in their defense, the average white in the Deep South has not heard or felt an invitation to Barack Obama’s e-pluribus-unum national oneness.

“‘We’ used to be the solid Democratic South, an impenetrable phalanx arrayed to stop the black man from entering. ‘We’ are now the solid (white) Republican South, arrayed with similar intent, lessened affect, and excused with heightened deceit.”

Maybe it is a tough puzzle to understand, but former Mississippi Gov. William Winter says Ayers comes “as close to explaining who we Southerners are and why we act as we do.”

D.G. Martin’s 97.9FM WCHL show runs on Saturday and Sunday at 5 a.m. and 6 a.m., noon and 1 p.m, and 9 p.m. and 11 p.m (archives for his show can be found here). You can find D.G.’s WCHL notebook audio here, as well as all of his Chapelboro.com columns here.

D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” which airs Sundays at noon and Thursdays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV. For more information or to view prior programs visit the webpage at www.unctv.org/ncbookwatch.

Next week’s (September 15, 19) guest is Ben Fountain, author of “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.”

The program will also air at Wednesday September   at 11 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on UNC-MX, a digital cable system channel (Time Warner #172 or #4.4). In addition, airing at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday on UNC-MX will be a classic Bookwatch program featuring Mary Kay Andrews (a pen name for Kathy Hogan Trocheck), author of “Hissy Fit.”

A grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council provides crucial support for North Carolina Bookwatch.

North Carolina native Ben Fountain won many writing awards and critical praise for his writing, especially for his book of short stories, “Brief Encounters with Che Guevara.” His debut novel, “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” won the 2013 National Book Critics’ Circle Award for fiction and was named a “best book of the year” by Time, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Kirkus Reviews and Publishers Weekly.

http://chapelboro.com/columns/one-on-one/the-making-of-a-southern-liberal/

New Book, New Author, and MLK’s Dream

Last week while we were celebrating the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, part of that dream came true.

It came with the publication of Jason Mott’s debut novel, “The Returned.” Mott sets his book in the fictional town of Arcadia in the very real Columbus County, where Mott grew up and still lives. Arcadia, says Mott, is a combination of Bolton, his hometown, Lake Waccamaw and Whiteville.

When King gave his famous speech in 1963, Columbus County was not much different than it was in the 1950s, when two local newspapers won Pulitzer prizes for their courageous reporting of substantial Ku Klux Klan activities in the area. It was the kind of place King dreamed could be transformed so that people would be judged by the content of their character rather than by the color of their skin.

What does Mott’s new book set in that county have to do with King’s dream? Mott, who is African-American, describes a fictional Columbus County where the race of its residents seems to make little difference.

To put it bluntly, you cannot tell the whites from the blacks. It is race neutral. Mott’s fictional characters then are judged by the content of their character, just the way Martin Luther King dreamed.

What about the real Columbus County? Not perfect, of course. But Mott says his home county is, for him, pretty much the way he describes it in his book.

What then is this race-neutral book about? Here is a short summary: almost 50 years ago Harold and Lucille Hargrave lost their only child to drowning on his eighth birthday. Now in their 70s, they respond to a knock at their door and are met by a federal agent who tells them he is returning their son, Jacob. The boy, or what appears to be their son, is still eight years old. He recognizes his parents even though they have aged. Harold and Lucille are too old for the job of rearing an eight-year-old, and they worry and wonder about who or what this returned “Jacob” really is.

Meanwhile, across the country and throughout the world, more and more of these returned people appear. Their growing numbers create numerous problems. Anti-returned popular movements emerge and threaten violence against the strange beings. The government orders that the returned people be collected and held in camps. One of these confinement camps is established in Arcadia. Little Jacob is held there, and Harold goes in with him.

Once Mott persuades his readers to believe this speculative premise of dead people reappearing, they must deal with moral questions that are raised by society’s treatments of the returned people. Mott says that his study of the confinement of ethnic Japanese in the United States during World War II had an impact on him. The confinement and discrimination against the returned people in Mott’s story also evokes memories of the Holocaust, slave codes, and the challenges of dealing with illegal immigration.

Mott is a talented storyteller and “The Returned” belongs in the tradition of other important books like “Gulliver’s Travels” and “1984,” which raised important social or political issues, but required the suspension of disbelief to appreciate the story.

“The Returned” should be a bestseller because it tells an entertaining and provocative story. But its success is assured because a new ABC television series, “Resurrection,” based on the book and starring Omar Epps, begins March 2014. For an introduction to the story, take a look at the trailer for the new television series, here.

It will make you want to watch the television series. Before that, read the book, and get the feeling that a small part of Martin Luther King’s dream has come true.

D.G. Martin’s 97.9FM WCHL show runs on Saturday and Sunday at 5 a.m. and 6 a.m., noon and 1 p.m, and 9 p.m. and 11 p.m (archives for his show can be found here). You can find D.G.’s WCHL notebook audio here, as well as all of his Chapelboro.com columns here.

D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” which airs Sundays at noon and Thursdays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV. For more information or to view prior programs visit the webpage at www.unctv.org/ncbookwatch.

This week’s guests are Woody Durham, author of his memoir “Woody Durham” on Sunday September 8 at noon and Elizabeth Spencer author of “The Southern Woman” on Thursday September 12 at 5 p.m.

Spencer’s program will also air at Wednesday September   at 11 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on UNC-MX, a digital cable system channel (Time Warner #172 or #4.4). In addition, airing at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday on UNC-MX will be a classic Bookwatch program featuring Peder Zane author of “Remarkable Reads”).

A grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council provides crucial support for North Carolina Bookwatch.

http://chapelboro.com/columns/one-on-one/new-book-new-author-and-mlks-dream/

A Good “Night” Book From Another North Carolina Author

Think for a minute about books by North Carolina’s best writers.

Then tell me the one word that goes with the following words in the three recent book titles: Train, Woods, and Film.

Okay, here are the answers: Clyde Edgerton’s “Night Train,” Charles Frazier’s “Night Woods,” and the just released “Night Film” by Marisha Pessl, who grew up in Asheville and gained national attention in 2006 with her debut novel “Special Topics in Calamity Physics.”

As Edgerton and Fraser could have explained to Pessl, writing the second novel after a wildly successful debut is a formidable challenge.

But, like Edgerton and Fraser, Pessl has proved she has the commitment and talent to give us a lifetime of rich storytelling.

“Night Film” burst onto the literary scene last week with reviews, mostly favorable, in The New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, and USA Today.

“I don’t read the reviews,” Pessl said when I told her that the Boston Globe’s review raved about the unusual, innovating organization of “Night Film.”

The Globe’s reviewer opined that the book’s first chapter “should go down in literary history as among the most notable formal innovations of this century. It consists of a series of Web pages…pertaining to the untimely death of a young woman, the strange career of her filmmaker father, and an ensuing journalistic investigation. …Remarkably, Pessl’s inclusion of the Internet feels not at all gimmicky or forced….They deepen the mystery Pessl sets out in traditional text. The cumulative effect is entrancing and delightful, infusing the narrative…with urgency and spookiness. It feels, above all things, new.”

Pessl was more interested in the reviewer’s praise for the book’s storytelling and rich writing.

So, what is the story of “Night Film”?

Ashley Cordova, daughter of Stanislas Cordova, the infamous, reclusive director of cult films, falls to her death in the elevator shaft of a deserted building in Manhattan’s Chinatown.

Although the death is ruled a suicide, Scott McGrath, a down-and-out investigative journalist, suspects otherwise.

His investigation takes him and the book’s readers to the mental hospital from which Ashley escaped shortly before her death.

McGrath and two interesting young assistants, whom he picks up along the way, visit the places in New York where Ashley spent her last 10 days: the Waldorf Astoria, a walk-up apartment where Ashley took residence, a tattoo parlor, the Cordova family mansion, an exclusive bondage club, and other places to try to find out how and why Ashley died and who might be responsible.

McGrath also contacts her father’s actors, former spouses, staff members, and others who knew Stanislas Cordova. He visits the isolated estate where Stanislas made his films and Ashley grew up. He breaks into the secret webpage of a cult of Cordova movie fans. He does everything to find, as he suspects, some direct connection between the film director and his daughter’s death.

Then, when black magic and pacts with the devil pop up as clues, McGrath has to explore the possible connections. He starts out as a skeptic, “In the forty-three years I’ve been alive, I’ve never seen a ghost. Never had a cold chill pass through me. Never seen a miracle. Every time my mind wanted to jump to some mystical conclusion, I’ve always found that inclination was simply born of fear and there was a rational explanation behind it.”

His investigation forces him to reassess his views of the supernatural and much more, 600 pages worth.

“Night Film” is a long trip, but also a quick read, thanks to Pessl’s fast-paced story telling gifts.

And when she is ready to take her readers on another similar trip, I will be waiting at the station, ready to go.

D.G. Martin’s 97.9FM WCHL show runs on Saturday and Sunday at 5 a.m. and 6 a.m., noon and 1 p.m, and 9 p.m. and 11 p.m (archives for his show can be found here). You can find D.G.’s WCHL notebook audio here, as well as all of his Chapelboro.com columns here.

D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” which airs Sundays at noon and Thursdays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV. For more information or to view prior programs visit the webpage at www.unctv.org/ncbookwatch.

In her award winning, New York Times best selling novel aimed especially at young people and parents, “Out of My Mind,” award-winning author Sharon Draper introduces us to Melody, an 11-year-old girl who cannot speak. She is so afflicted with Cerebral Palsy that she can hardly move. Even though she is the smartest person in her school, she is treated as though she has no intellectual potential. Then a series of events and important help from others give Melody the opportunity to show her stuff and teach us lessons about the dangers of underrating the potential of those with physical challenges. More information about the book at

http://sharondraper.com/bookdetail-reviews.asp?id=35

This week’s (September 1, 5) guest is Sharon Draper author of “Out of My Mind.”

The program will also air at Wednesday September   at 11 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on UNC-MX, a digital cable system channel (Time Warner #172 or #4.4). In addition, airing at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday on UNC-MX will be a classic Bookwatch program featuring Lynn York author of “The Piano Teacher.”

A grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council provides crucial support for North Carolina Bookwatch.

http://chapelboro.com/columns/one-on-one/a-good-night-book-from-another-north-carolina-author/

Why Maine?

Mountains and ocean coasts, all within reach.

In North Carolina, we appreciate this blessing.

As Tom Earnhardt points out in his fine new book, “Crossroads of the Natural World,” if you travel from Bald Head Island to Grandfather Mountain or Mount Mitchell, you can experience the same diversity of ecosystems as you would on a trip from the tropics to northern Maine or into Canada.

So, why would I be so desperate to travel to Maine this summer when I could simply follow Earnhardt’s route and get the same experience right here in North Carolina?

One reason: Several of my friends quietly slip away each year to spend part of their summers up there in Maine. I have wondered what caused so many of them to go there.  I developed a secret plan to visit each of them some summer, bumming meals and places to stay.

The second reason: I got caught up in the book featured on North Carolina Bookwatch a couple of years ago. In “You Lost Me There,” Rosecrans Baldwin set his story on Mount Desert Island, Maine. His characters introduced me to Bar Harbor, the resort town on that island and to a variety of other towns and communities like Southwest Harbor, Bass Harbor, and Northeast Harbor. In each one fishing and lobster boats and workers abound. Working people mingle with the summer visitors and tourists.

Baldwin convinced me that the island was like a compact country unto itself.

I remembered a story he told about another island town, Seal Harbor, where, a certain celebrity neighbor, Martha Stewart, asked to use a gas station’s telephone. The clerk politely told her the inside phone was for employees only, but that there was a pay phone outside. Stewart lives only a minute or two away, but she insisted she needed to use the inside phone. After more questions and explanations, she said to the clerk, “Do you know who I am? Do you realize who you’re talking to?”

“At which point.” Baldwin related, “an elderly gentleman steps out of line, and says, ‘Excuse me, but I’m David Rockefeller. And I use the pay phone, too.’ And he hands her a quarter.”

After I read that story I put Mount Desert Island on my bucket list. When I got a chance last week to visit for two days, I grabbed it.

And if you ever have a chance to visit, I encourage you to do so, too.

Here are some of the highlights of my quick visit:

1. Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, which covers most of Mount Desert Island, was my first stop. For the experience I had, imagine you are on top of Grandfather Mountain looking down on Southport or Ocracoke and the ocean beyond. I drove to the top of the mountain, but many others find the challenge of scaling it by foot irresistible. I gave a ride down the mountain to two hikers, who just finished walking the entire Appalachian Trail. They said Cadillac Mountain’s dramatic views beat anything they had seen this summer.

2. At Schoodic Point,  a rocky coastal peninsula juts out and meets the powerful sea. Most visitors to the area skip this part of the Acadia Park because it is a 45-minute drive or ferry ride away from Bar Harbor. They miss an unforgettable experience.

3. The town of Bar Harbor at first looks like any other upscale tourist town. But the restaurants and shops have an overlay of relaxed Yankee charm. In a park overlooking the harbor I sat for hours watching small boats come and go.

4. I would not want to miss any of the island towns with “Harbor” in their name: Southwest, Northeast, Bass, and, of course Seal, where Rockefeller and Stewart met. Each has its special charm and foods, always bustling with some activity in arts, music, and eating. All have an appealing mixture of visitors and hard-working locals, who make it their business to make everyone feel welcome.

5. Get off Mount Desert Island and visit some of the many small coastal towns in the nearby area. Do not miss Blue Hill, where I ran into a young woman wearing a UNC shirt. She stopped to chat and have coffee. She explained that even though she loves her home state, North Carolina, she wouldn’t trade her two weeks in Maine each year for anything.

I wouldn’t trade my two days in Maine for anything either, even though, as always I was glad to get back to home in North Carolina.

D.G. Martin’s 97.9FM WCHL show runs on Saturday and Sunday at 5 a.m. and 6 a.m., noon and 1 p.m, and 9 p.m. and 11 p.m (archives for his show can be found here). You can find D.G.’s WCHL notebook audio here, as well as all of his Chapelboro.com columns here.

D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” which airs Sundays at noon and Thursdays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV. For more information or to view prior programs visit the webpage at www.unctv.org/ncbookwatch/

This week’s (August 25, 29) guest is Duke Professor Dan Ariely, author of “Predictably Irrational.”

The program will also air at Wednesday August  28 at 11 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on UNC-MX, a digital cable system channel (Time Warner #172 or #4.4). In addition, airing at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday on UNC-MX will be a classic Bookwatch program featuring Walter Turner, author of “Paving Tobacco Road).”

A grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council provides crucial support for North Carolina Bookwatch.

The bestselling book’s title, “Predictably Irrational, “ is a good summary of Dan Ariely’s main point: Many important decisions we make every day are not based on a rational determination of what is best for us from an economic viewpoint.

There are two important consequences. First, we often do a terrible job in taking care of ourselves economically. Second, the conclusions that economists make based on a “perfect” marketplace composed of rational decision makers can be very wrong.

“Predictably Irrational” is full of entertaining examples designed to prove Ariely’s point.

http://chapelboro.com/columns/one-on-one/why-maine/

Apologize Sincerely, My Mom Told Me

Apologize, my mom told me.

When you hurt somebody’s feelings, she said, apologize, even if they misunderstood or even if you didn’t mean it the way they took it.

Say you’re sorry and move on.

And that is what I did when some folks took offense at my recent column that used a quote from Erik Larson’s “In the Garden of the Beasts” in which a spokesman tried to explain away violence of Nazi followers towards Jews. If you missed that column, you can read it here.

But for my friends and readers who heard that I called somebody else a Nazi, I want to emphasize that is not what I did.

Others have explained it better than I could, including Gary Pearce and Carter Wrenn on their blog, talkingaboutpolitics.com, which is a unique source of political viewpoints because they represent polar opposite opinions. Gary has been Jim Hunt’s longtime political advisor, and Carter was a principal strategist for Jesse Helms. Both Gary and Carter are political geniuses.

They weighed in on the controversy about my column, Gary first:

******

D.G. and the GOP

D.G. Martin – TV-radio host, newspaper columnist and finalist for Most Interesting Man in the World – riled up the Republican Party with a recent column.

State GOP Chair Claude Pope accused D.G. of comparing Republicans to Nazis. “Inexcusable, disgusting and shameful,” Pope fumed. He called on UNC-TV to suspend D.G.’s show “Book Watch,” so as not to “damage the reputation of an otherwise upstanding organization.”

(Remind me: Wasn’t it just last year that Mitt Romney and the Republicans were demanding the de-funding of Big Bird?)

Now, no one should ever compare anybody to Nazis. D.G. didn’t. Read his column. [See the link above.]

And Pope’s outrage might look more genuine if so many members of his own party hadn’t so freely compared President Obama to Hitler and Obamacare to fascism.

This qualifies as crocodile tears.

*****

Carter followed with the following:

*****

The Smell Test

All I can say about Gary’s column on D.G. Martin is – “Amen.”

In the fourteen years I’ve known D.G., I’ve never heard him say an unkind word about anyone – so Claude Pope claiming he’d called Republicans Nazis just didn’t pass the smell test.

Here’s the column D.G. wrote. Take a look at it. [See the link above.] Ole Claude, out of paranoia, foolishness, or a plain mean streak, indulged in a fact twist.

A political pundit had said Republicans “overreaching” in the legislature was natural for folks who’d been out of power for a long time, and D.G. pointed out that, in his book, ”In the Garden of the Beasts,” Erik Larson reported Joseph Goebbels had used pretty much the same explanation for Nazi excesses back in the 1930’s.

It’s a subtle but straightforward point: Comparing the pundit’s explanation to what Goebbels said 80 years ago was not calling Republicans Nazis. But Claude wasn’t about to let anything as fragile as a fact stand in his way.

Here’s my point: There’s not much difference between Rev. Barber twisting a fact so he can howl Republicans are turning back the clock to the days of Jim Crow and Claude Pope twisting a fact so he can howl at D.G.

******

You do not have to agree with Carter about William Barber to see the power of the analogy.

I am also grateful to others who understood the points I tried to make and expressed their support. Thomas Mills had read ”In the Garden of the Beasts” and thought “about the parallels throughout this session of the legislature.”

You can read his thoughtful commentary at www.politicsnc.com

My favorite came from “Indy Weekly” columnist Bob Geary, who made their “denouncement” of me as Number 1 in his Top Ten list of recent Republican mistakes.

See his complete list here.

All that said, I am still sorry. My apology stands, and I will continue to try to treat those who disagree with me with respect, just like my mom told me.

D.G. Martin’s 97.9FM WCHL show runs on Saturday and Sunday at 5 a.m. and 6 a.m., noon and 1 p.m, and 9 p.m. and 11 p.m (archives for his show can be found here). You can find D.G.’s WCHL notebook audio here, as well as all of his Chapelboro.com columns here.

D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” which airs Sundays at noon and Thursdays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV. For more information or to view prior programs visit the webpage at www.unctv.org/ncbookwatch.

This week’s (August 18, 22) guest is Susan Woodring, author of “Goliath.”

“Goliath” is a powerful debut by Susan Woodring, who lives in Drexel, home to a closed Drexel Heritage Furniture plant. Her novel is set in a similar but fictional place, where quirky, but very realistic, characters try to cope with the demise of their town. The story begins with the death of the popular owner of the town’s furniture factory, an institution that will not survive his passing. About his death Woodring writes, “The sorrow of it went out in glittering gusts like the old-fashioned purple and pink insecticide clouds sprayed through the town streets in years past. There was a sheen to a tragedy this grave, this mysterious.”

The beautifully written first chapter of “Goliath” is available on line at

http://www.susanwoodring.com/p/first-chapter-of-goliath.html

The program will also air at Wednesday August 21 at 11 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on UNC-MX, a digital cable system channel (Time Warner #172 or #4.4). In addition, airing at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday on UNC-MX will be a classic Bookwatch program featuring Bill Thompson author of ““Sweet Tea Fried Chicken and Lazy Dogs”.”

A grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council provides crucial support for North Carolina Bookwatch.

http://chapelboro.com/columns/one-on-one/apologize-sincerely-my-mom-told-me/

Bernie Reeves: In Defense of DG Martin

DG Martin has made a mistake by referring to Republicans in the NC Legislature as Nazis. But it should be clarified he did not say this on-air as host of WUNC-TV’s Bookwatch program — as erroneously reported — nor on his Who’s Talking radio program on 97.9FM-WCHL. My experience has shown DG to be liberal but fair-minded. The Nazi comment is out of character.

As is known in these parts, I am a conservative. Yet DG Martin has asked me to be a guest on his WCHL radio program regularly. He says on-air each time that I am a favorite of his audience in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metro. Though our conversations are spirited, he has never censored anything I have said and has treated me with respect.

I do not approve of DG’s analogy that labels Republicans in the NC Legislature Nazis — yet it is consistent with his role as a book show host to create a literary reference for his opinion, in this case Beasts in the Garden by Erik Larson. But I respect his First Amendment right to present his views.

I say that with some irony. DG, a liberal, is now the object of personal attacks for speaking his mind — the modus operandi of the Left in the US and North Carolina to attack conservatives. If anyone dares say anything that contradicts the smug and righteous leftist view, off come the gloves. This behavior has led to the decline of free speech in our society, codified and enforced by the politically correct police gestated by radical scholars on our campuses in the 1970s.

Their purpose is rarely to debate or set the record straight. The goal is to engage in slanders designed to discredit and stain the person who dares utter an opinion contrary to the party line. Now DG is finding out what it’s like to be attacked for stating an opinion the other side dislikes.

Yet, in our radio debates, DG has never resorted to abuse or personal attacks. And his service to the public via his North Carolina Bookwatch program is estimable and provides a forum for authors in North Carolina.

DG made a mistake and deserves criticism. But I fear citizens of the Right are in danger of engaging in the same tactics as the Left when they resort to hyperbole and personal attacks against contrary opinion.

Sincerely,

Bernie Reeves
Editor & Publisher, Raleigh Metro Magazine
Founder: Raleigh Spy Conference

http://chapelboro.com/columns/guest-column-columns/bernie-reeves-in-defense-of-dg-martin/

Egypt, Nazi Germany, and North Carolina

Does the following description of a political situation at the beginning of July apply to Egypt or North Carolina?

**Just a year after winning a decisive election victory and taking power from an entrenched regime that had been in charge for many years, the victors alienated a substantial part of their population. Their undemocratic efforts to deny participation by those people and groups who oppose them were patently undemocratic and unfair.**

It applies to Egypt before the recent ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood-led government. But, arguably, it could apply just as well to North Carolina’s political transformation.

Our state’s political turnaround recently got the attention of another national columnist.

“There was a time,” wrote Neal Peirce of The Washington Post, “when North Carolina was a symbol of Southern enlightenment. Compared to the policies of the old ‘Solid South’–Democratic, conservative, fervidly anti-civil rights–the state embraced relatively progressive policies in such areas as education and race relations.

“No longer… the Tar Heel state is racing to lead the pack in conservative anti-city and implicitly anti-black politics.”

Peirce partially summarized the record, noting a bill that reduces revenue by a half-billion dollars, lowering taxes on high income individuals “while increasing taxes for small business owners and lower-and-middle-class taxpayers,” cutting unemployment insurance coverage, cutting support of elementary education, and repealing the Racial Justice Act.

In Egypt, the actions of the government led to popular uprisings followed by the government’s ouster led by the military.

In North Carolina, the actions of the government led to the protests on Moral Mondays.

“What are the odds that Moral Monday protests or the like will deter North Carolina’s new right-wing politics?” asks Peirce.

“Realistically, very low.” he answers.

Noting the legislature’s efforts to “seize city assets” like the Charlotte airport and Asheville water system, Peirce says, “It’s clear that an ugly ‘reward-friends, punish-adversaries’ politics is in full flower.”

Is there any prospect for change in direction?

Not much, according to Peirce. “Growing Hispanic and other more moderate political voices could offset the trend. But with North Carolina’s legislative districts carefully drawn to entrench the ascendant Republicans, a return to moderation may be years–if not decades–away.”

Somebody might ask, “Where is the Egyptian Army when we need them?”

On the other hand, some political observers point out that, after being out of power for so long, the newly empowered can be forgiven for a few excesses and that, once they are accustomed to the responsibilities of governing, their policies will become more moderate and practical.

The apologists for the ousted Egyptian government made the same argument.

Similar explanations were made to explain away Nazi excesses when they took power in Germany in 1933 according to Erik Larson’s recent best seller, “In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin,” based on the experience of North Carolina native William E. Dodd, who was U.S. Ambassador to Germany during this period.

According to Larson, when the new Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels faced questions about abuse against Jews, he told reporters, “Let me explain how such a thing might occasionally happen,” Goebbels said. “All during the twelve years of the Weimar Republic our people were virtually in jail. Now our party is in charge and they are free again. When a man has been in jail for twelve years and he is suddenly freed, in his joy he may do something irrational, perhaps even brutal. Is that not a possibility in your country also?”

In our state, too?

D.G. Martin’s 97.9FM WCHL show runs on Saturday and Sunday at 5 a.m. and 6 a.m., noon and 1 p.m, and 9 p.m. and 11 p.m (archives for his show can be found here). You can find D.G.’s WCHL notebook audio here, as well as all of his Chapelboro.com columns here.

D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” which airs Sundays at noon and Thursdays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV. For more information or to view prior programs visit the webpage at www.unctv.org/ncbookwatch.

This week’s (August 4, 8) guest is Ann B. Ross author of “Miss Julia to the Rescue.”

Ann B. Ross always presents her modern, middle-aged, mountain heroine with a variety of interesting challenges. In Ross’s latest novel, “Miss Julia to the Rescue,” Miss Julia has to confront some wild religious practices, including church services with snake handling and a new “Church of Body Modification,” where adherents show commitment by tattoos and attachment of heavy metal objects to their bodies.

The program will also air at Wednesday August 7 at 11 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on UNC-MX, a digital cable system channel (Time Warner #172 or #4.4). In addition, airing at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday on UNC-MX will be a classic Bookwatch program featuring Orin Starn, author of “Ishi’s Brain.”

A grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council provides crucial support for North Carolina Bookwatch.

http://chapelboro.com/columns/one-on-one/egypt-nazi-germany-and-north-carolina/

Losing The Best Lobbyist

When Zeb Alley died earlier this month, lots of people in North Carolina thought they had lost one of their best friends.

Those of us who worked the Raleigh scene knew him as one of the most influential lobbyists ever to work the North Carolina General Assembly.

Zeb—almost nobody called him Mr. Alley–was a former legislator from the mountains, and he was ranked Number 1 on the list compiled by the North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research for as long as anyone can remember.

And with good reason. He knew how the legislature works. It is not exactly how the civics’ lessons teach us. Legislators are complicated people. Just like the rest of us, they have their pet projects, their special interests, their friends whom they would like to help, their enemies whom they have a hard time trusting, and their hopes for advancement and, of course, for reelection. Zeb made it his business to know about these things and help them when he could, which was almost always.

His mountain background gave him a quiet, respectful manner that won friends and drew people to him.

At Ruby and Jack Hunt’s legendary home-cooking suppers where the state’s most influential people often gathered, they gathered around Zeb. To hear his stories.

One of my favorites was about one of his clients back when Zeb was trying to make a living as a lawyer representing mountain people who got into trouble.

“This man was the most unsuccessful criminal I ever met,” Zeb said over and over again. “Tried to commit an armed robbery with a broken shot gun and one shell, which he fired as a warning shot. Ran away, but got caught by the intended victims, who beat him to a pulp before the sheriff arrived.”

“Then he was charged with attempted rape, which was terrible. But it was only ‘attempted’ because he fell asleep before he completed the crime.”

When Zeb would try to stop, his friends urged him on and on.

I thought to myself, if I were a legislator, my door would always be open to Zeb. I would stop whatever I was doing just to hear him tell another story.

An open door to an important legislator’s office is the effective lobbyist’s most prized possession.

An open door to the office of a powerful and busy legislator gives a lobbyist the opportunity to present his or her client’s positions in the most positive way. More importantly, it gives the lobbyist the chance to hear the legislator’s real worries and problems about those positions. An experienced and effective lobbyist like Zeb can often work out a way to deal with those problems—or to work around them.

Unlike the inept criminal who only had one shell in his shotgun, Zeb’s always had multiple ways to work around a problem.

Of course, Zeb and other effective lobbyists do not always win or get everything their clients wanted. Babe Ruth didn’t hit a home run every time he went to the plate either. But when Babe was at the plate, you knew you had the best chance of success. Same with Zeb.

Like many of the best old-time lobbyists, he also worked for free to help some people and groups who would never be able to afford to pay for his talents. He took a special interest in veterans, who like himself carried wounds from their service to our country.

Every time I watched Zeb in action or heard about one of his successes, I wished that, somehow, every North Carolinian could have someone like him to look out for their interests in the legislature.

D.G. Martin’s 97.9FM WCHL show runs on Saturday and Sunday at 5 a.m. and 6 a.m., noon and 1 p.m, and 9 p.m. and 11 p.m (archives for his show can be found here). You can find D.G.’s WCHL notebook audio here, as well as all of his Chapelboro.com columns here.

D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” which airs Sundays at noon and Thursdays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV. For more information or to view prior programs visit the webpage at www.unctv.org/ncbookwatch.

This week’s (July 28, August 1) guest is John Hope Franklin author of “Mirror to America.”

John Hope Franklin, who died in 2009 at 94, could be called North Carolina’s Nelson Mandela. Like Mandela, Franklin insisted on accountability and redress for the injustices of his country’s racist past, but always, in his gentle and dignified manner, ready to engage and make common cause with his former opponents. In 2006, Franklin appeared on North Carolina Bookwatch to discuss his memoir, “Mirror to America.” As Mandela struggles for his life, the opportunity to observe Franklin talking about his life in a changing America seems an appropriate way to celebrate the lives of both men.

The program will also air at Wednesday July 31 at 11 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on UNC-MX, a digital cable system channel (Time Warner #172 or #4.4). In addition, airing at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday on UNC-MX will be a classic Bookwatch program featuring Steve Sherrill, author of “Visits from the Drowned Girl.”

A grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council provides crucial support for North Carolina Bookwatch.

http://chapelboro.com/columns/one-on-one/losing-the-best-lobbyist/