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Friday, October 12, 2012

Choose Civility: Can't we all just get along?

  Last night I attended the Choose Civility Symposium at the Miller Library.  Choose Civility is so much more than the bumper stickers.
       With over 300 people register for the event the attendance was impressive when you realize that the event was up against an Oriole playoff game against the Yankees and the Vice Presidential debate.
   The evening began with a rousing patriotic presentation by the Young Columbians.  This was the first time I have heard them but they were impressive.
    NPR's Korva Coleman moderated an informative discussion on the civility issue with author Henry Alford, David Frum, conservative commentator and blogger and Andrew Green, the Opinion Editor of the Baltimore Sun.  The evening started with Ms. Coleman discussing Mr. Alford's most recent book, "Would it kill you to stop doing that?." Mr. Alford talked about how our rapidly changing society has struggled to identify the boundaries of civility and manners in the 21st century.  Emily Post and Miss Manners words of advise are from a much simpler time. 
    Andrew Green and David Frum joined the discussion and added to the discussion that with our 24 hour news cycle's need to fill large amounts of on air time the easiest way to do that is with shows hosting opposing "talking heads" which generate heat but little enlightenment on the issues.  Mr Frum had even mentioned that he had proposed that CNN use the 11 am to noon time to educate the viewers on frequently discussed but little understood issue like credit default swaps.  His thinking was that the 11 am time slot had so few viewers that it at least could be used to educate on these topics.  I have to admit that I have read articles and even one book on this topic and I still don't understand how the default swaps work other than they had a significant role in our financial troubles.  Kinda like my attempts to understand Einstein's Theory of Relativity.
    Finally I would be remiss as a Board member of the Friends of the Library if I didn't plug the Friends that support events like this one.  I encourage everyone to consider joining the Friends of the Library.

P. S.
From David Greisman at the Columbia Association:
Teens, parents invited to learn more about CA’s 2013 Sister Cities Exchange program
Parents and teens interested in learning about the annual summer Sister Cities High School Exchange program are invited to attend one of four informational sessions hosted by Columbia Association (CA).
The sessions will take place at CA Headquarters, located at 10221 Wincopin Circle in downtown Columbia, on Wednesday, Oct. 24; Wednesday, Nov. 7; Thursday, Dec. 6; and Wednesday, Jan. 9. All are scheduled to be held from 7 to 8 p.m. Each session will include teen and parent alumni of the program, as well as Laura Smit, program manager for CA’s international exchange and multicultural programs, all of whom will speak and answer questions about the month-long program.
Teen participants spend approximately two weeks of cultural and linguistic immersion during the summer in one of Columbia’s sister cities: Cergy-Pontoise in France or Tres Cantos in Spain. During this time, they are hosted by the family of a French or Spanish student. After returning to the United States, students will then host their French/Spanish counterparts for another two weeks. Throughout the trip, there are organized group activities for the participants, both abroad and in the U.S.
The program fee is $650 for Columbia residents and $790 for non-Columbia residents, excluding airline tickets. Airline tickets may range from $1,100 to $1,500 per participant. Applicants must be high school students residing in Howard County and must have completed high school level three of French or Spanish by the end of the current academic year or have the equivalent language fluency. The application deadline is Feb. 22.
For an application or more information, visit, or contact Laura Smit at 410-715-3162 or

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