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Rowling urges graduates to Imagine a Better World at Harvard Commencement, challenging them to use their gifts for greater good

'Harry Potter' Author J.K. Rowling receives honorary degree at Harvard University Commencement 2008

(quote)

CAMBRIDGE - Acclaimed author J.K. Rowling, whose boy wizard captured the interest of countless readers with the "Harry Potter" series, urged Harvard graduates yesterday to use their imaginations to create a better world. In an earnest, personal speech, the British author reminded students that their talents and opportunities carry "unique status and unique responsibilities," and challenged them to use their gifts for the greater good.

"That is your privilege and your burden," she said. "If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice, if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless, if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped transform for the better." "We do not need magic to change the world," she continued. "We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: We have the power to imagine better."

Rowling makes her way to the stage before commencement address at Harvard University, June 5, 2008 in Cambridge, Mass.  read more »

Switzerland's Roger Federer Faces Chile's Fernando Gonzalez in French Open Tennis Tournament Quarterfinals

top seeded Switzerland's Roger Federer defeats France's Julien Benneteau in French Open at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris

"PARIS (Reuters) - World number one Roger Federer will face Chile's Fernando Gonzalez as he bids to join Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals of the French Open on Wednesday.

The Swiss top seed has been shunted onto Court Suzanne Lenglen with Centre Court honours going to local favourite Gael Monfils, who will take on Spanish fifth seed David Ferrer in the other quarter-final in the top half of the draw.

Federer should advance having lost only once in 11 meetings with the Chilean, but that one defeat came in their last encounter at the Masters Cup in Shanghai in 2007. Monfils will be hoping to become the first Frenchman to reach the last four at Roland Garros since Sebastien Grosjean in 2001."

Photos courtesy of AP Photo/David Vincent and Reuters/Francois Lenoir

Chile's Fernando Gonzalez beats Robby Ginepri of the U.S. during the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris June 2, 2008

Original Source: Reuters

U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy undergoes successful brain surgery

(quote)

After investigating his options with his trademark intensity, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy underwent 3 1/2 hours of risky and exquisitely delicate surgery Monday to cut out as much of his cancerous brain tumor as possible. "I feel like a million bucks. I think I'll do that again tomorrow," the 76-year-old Massachusetts Democrat was quoted by a family spokeswoman as telling his wife immediately afterward.

The sole surviving son of America's most glamorous and tragic political family was diagnosed last month with a malignant glioma, an often lethal type of brain tumor discovered in about 9,000 Americans a year. Cutting a tumor down to size — or "debulking" it — is extremely delicate because of the risk of harming healthy brain tissue that governs movement and speech. But Friedman, who is the top neurosurgeon at Duke and an internationally known tumor surgeon, said Kennedy should not experience any permanent neurological effects. Doctors said Kennedy was awake for much of the surgery, which begins with opening the scalp and removing a piece of the skull to expose the brain. Sometimes, to avoid damaging areas that control speech, surgeons use a probe to stimulate parts of the brain, then hold a conversation with the patient.

Monday's operation "spells nothing but hope," Duke's Sampson said from Chicago, where he was attending a conference of 30,000 cancer specialists. "What we're seeing with the surgery and this conference is that there's hope for patients with this kind of cancer."

(unquote)

Photos courtesy of AP Photo/Getty Images

U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy underwent surgery to remove brain tumor  read more »

Pushing the Edge of Science - Growing Electronics with Viruses, Finding Alien Life, and Quantum Cryptography

(quote)

Angela Belcher
Edge work: “Programming” viruses to perform useful tasks
Why? It is clean and efficient.
Where? MIT
Initial response: “I was called insane.”

In a series of experiments at MIT, Belcher, working with a team of about 30 students and postdocs, has successfully programmed viruses to incorporate, then grow, a variety of inorganic materials, including nanoscale semiconductors, solar cells, and magnetic storage materials. Separately, she is using yeasts as scaffold organisms because of their abil­ity to grow many different materials. “We look at yeasts as factories,” she explains. “Instead of Budweiser, there’s Nanoweiser.” Belcher has begun working with the U.S. Army on nanoscale batteries that would weigh a fraction of what current batteries weigh and be woven into a soldier’s uniform. She is also training viruses to “find mistakes in materials and give off a signal.” One possible application: spraying viruses on an airplane fuselage to check for microscopic defects. In addition, the National Cancer Institute is funding Belcher to use viruses to find peptides that can specifically identify cancer cells.

Dimitar Sasselov
Edge work: Finding life on planets outside our solar system
Why? We have to know.
Where? Harvard University
Initial response: “People are always very excited.”  read more »

Video: John F. Kennedy Jr. in Barbara Walters Interview


John F. Kennedy Jr. discusses "George" with Barbara Walters in a rare interview.

*Update*


America's Prince, John F Kennedy Jr. (his putative nickname "John-John" not used by his family) was born on Nov 25, 1960, two weeks after his father was elected 35th President of the United States. Tragically, his father was assassinated (Nov 22, 1963) three days before John Jr.'s third birthday; and John Jr. died at 39 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting.

On John Jr.'s third birthday, his father's funeral was held. John Jr. stepped forward and rendered a final salute as his father's flag-draped casket was carried out from St. Matthew's Cathedral. The family continued with their plans for a birthday party: the Kennedys would go on despite the death of their father.

Original source / photo credit Wikipedia

Pollack produced over 44 movies, directed more than 20 films, 10 television shows, and acted in over 30 movies/shows

(quote)

If Mr. Pollack, who died on Monday at 73, could be compared to a major figure from the Old Hollywood, it would not be to one of the great individualists like Howard Hawks or John Ford, but more like William Wyler: highly competent, drawn to projects with a certain quality and prestige and able above all to harness the charisma of movie stars to great emotional and dramatic effect.

Just about any film by Robert Altman or Martin Scorsese, for instance, will be immediately and primarily identifiable as such, no matter who’s in it. But if you think of “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?,” you’ll remember Jane Fonda, so desperate and defiant and sad as she pushes herself through a Depression-era dance marathon. “Tootsie” is Dustin Hoffman’s movie. “This Property Is Condemned” will conjure up Natalie Wood and Robert Redford, oddly cast but nonetheless generating Southern Gothic heat in an overripe Tennessee Williams scenario. And it is Mr. Redford who defines Mr. Pollack’s oeuvre nearly as much as the director himself. Over nearly 25 years, from “This Property Is Condemned” to “Havana,” they worked together on westerns (“Jeremiah Johnson,”); love stories both sweeping (“The Way We Were”) and intimate (“The Electric Horseman”); paranoid thrillers (“Three Days of the Condor”); and high-toned literary adaptations (“Out of Africa.”)  read more »

Video: Jon Stewart on "Crossfire" - Jon Stewart's "America"


*Update*
Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert Lead Massive Rally to "Restore Sanity and/or Fear" in DC (01Nov2010) JON STEWART: "We hear every damn day about how fragile our country is, on the brink of catastrophe, torn by polarizing hate, and how it’s a shame that we can’t work together to get things done. But the truth is, we do. We work together to get things done every damn day!"

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