Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ponzi Gas?

The New York Times publishes a story today with some evidence that the natural gas fracking rush is a giant and corrupt financial bubble in the making -- with risks of doing enormous damage to investors and the economy, and at the same time leaving behind enormous environmental damage in unproductive and abandoned wells. Is this a Ponzi scheme?

“Money is pouring in” from investors even though shale gas is “inherently unprofitable,” an analyst from PNC Wealth Management, an investment company, wrote to a contractor in a February e-mail. “Reminds you of dot-coms.”

“The word in the world of independents is that the shale plays are just giant Ponzi schemes and the economics just do not work,” an analyst from IHS Drilling Data, an energy research company, wrote in an e-mail on Aug. 28, 2009.

Get-rich-quick mining and drilling schemes have been a feature of American life for a couple of centuries at least -- are we at it again?

Ian Urbina, "Insiders Sound an Alarm Amid a Natural Gas Rush," New York Times, 26 June 2011.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Lawrence W. Rosenfield

Larry Rosenfield died yesterday in Minneapolis.

Larry was an inspirational teacher and a major scholar in rhetorical studies. He earned the B.A. and Ph.D. degrees at Cornell University and went on to teach at the University of Wisconsin, Hunter College, Queens College, Penn State University, and the University of New Hampshire.

I will post an obituary here when it becomes available.

From Betsy Hall: "Larry will have a memorial this coming Tuesday at 11:30 A.M. at Tifereth Israel in Lincoln Nebraska. The funeral home is Butherus Funeral Home in Lincoln. An obituary may be in Sunday's Lincoln Journal. He will be buried on Sunday, July 3rd at West Lawn Cemetery in Johnson City, NY (outside Binghamton) at 11:00 A.M. All are welcome."

The following obituary appeared online at the Butherus, Maser & Love Funeral Home:

Lawrence William (Larry) Rosenfield, 72, a retired professor of speech communication and rhetoric, died Friday, June 24, 2011, at his home in Lincoln, where he had lived since 2005.

He was born August 11, 1938, in Binghamton, N.Y., to Sam and Nettie (Feinberg) Rosenfield and grew up in Hancock, N.Y., where his parents owned a general dry goods store.

He spent a long career in university teaching and scholarship, beginning in 1963 at the University of Wisconsin, continuing at Hunter College and Queens College of the City University of New York in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s and a visiting appointment at Penn State University in the 1980s, and ending at the University of New Hampshire from 1998 to 2005.

He graduated from Hancock Central School in 1956 and then attended Cornell University on a National Merit Scholarship, participating in intercollegiate forensic debate as a member and vice president of the Cornell Debate Association and graduating in 1960 with high honors. He went on to complete a master’s degree at the University of Illinois and then returned to Cornell, where he earned a Ph.D. in speech and drama in 1963.

In 1999 the National Communication Association presented him with its Lifetime Teaching Excellence Award.

Preceded in death by his parents; a sister, Edna Rosenfield; and a brother, Jerry Rosenfield, he is survived by his wife, Sylvia Hermanson, of Lincoln; a brother, Arthur Rosenfield, of Randolph, N.J.; and numerous cousins around the country.

Services are at 11:30 a.m., Tuesday, June 28, 2011, at Tifereth Israel Synagogue.

A graveside service is scheduled for 11 a.m., Sunday, July 3, 2011, at Westlawn Cemetery in Johnson City, N.Y.

A panel to remember Larry's work is is being organized for the November 2011 meeting of the National Communication Association.

Bonnie Johnson Shurman

Bonnie Johnson Shurman, a dear friend and former student and colleague, died on June 2, 2011. Bonnie earned the Ph.D. in speech communication at SUNY Buffalo and taught for some years at Penn State in the 1970s.

Here is an obituary from Palo Alto online:

Bonnie Johnson Shurman
Jan. 20, 1944-June 2, 2011
Oak Island, North Carolina

Bonnie Johnson Shurman, age 67, of Oak Island, formerly of Palo Alto, Calif., passed away Thursday, June 2, 2011, in Southport, N.C.

She was born in Baytown, Texas, to the late Buck and Osie McDaniel. A loving wife, mom and grandmother, she celebrated each day of her life with joy and was cherished by her many friends, fellow church members and family.

A university professor for almost two decades and then another two decades as a visionary/strategic planner in corporate and consulting settings, Bonnie left Silicon Valley after a life-changing Acute Leukemia terminal diagnosis. Her miracle remission allowed her to follow her spirit to discern God's purpose for her life and enroll in the Episcopal Divinity School in Boston Massachusetts.

Her years at EDS were ones of tranquility, love, learning and inspiration. Bonnie lived for many more years infused with joy and grace and surrounded by her family and friends' constant love and support. While we are in sorrow, we also rejoice that Bonnie has let go of her earthly body to join her loving God. As Bonnie said in her Lenten sermon at St. Phillips, "Remember that we are love, and to love we shall return."

She is survived by her husband, Daniel; son, Ron and fiancée Amber; daughter, Jennifer and husband Scott; and her much-loved grandchildren, Zac, Lucas, Abi and Landen; and many dear friends.

Friends and family are invited to a memorial service to celebrate Bonnie's life on Friday, June 10, at 2 p.m. at St. Phillips Episcopal Church, Southport, N.C. Reception in the Parish hall to immediately follow the service.

Bonnie's family requests that in lieu of flowers that a donation may be made to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. You may offer online condolences at Peacock-Newnam & White Funeral and Cremation Service, Southport, NC.

other links:

Terry Winograd eulogy

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Italian American Filmmakers

Jonathan J. Cavallero, Hollywood's Italian American Filmmakers: Capra, Scorsese, Savoca, Coppola, and Tarantino (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2011).

from the publisher:

Hollywood's Italian American Filmmakers explores the different ways in which Italian American directors from the 1920s to the present have responded to their ethnicity. While some directors have used film to declare their ethnic roots and create an Italian American "imagined community," others have ignored or even denied their background. Jonathan J. Cavallero examines the films of Frank Capra, Martin Scorsese, Nancy Savoca, Francis Ford Coppola, and Quentin Tarantino with a focus on what the films reveal about each director's view on Italian American identities. Whereas Capra's films highlight similarities between immigrant characters and WASP Americans, Scorsese accepts his ethnic heritage but also sees it as confining. Many of Coppola's films provide a nostalgic treatment of Italian American identity, with little criticism of the culture's more negative aspects. And while Savoca's movies reveal her artful ability to recognize how ethnic, gender, and class identities overlap, Tarantino's films exhibit a playfully postmodern engagement with Italian American ethnicity.

Cavallero's exploration of the films of Capra, Scorsese, Savoca, Coppola, and Tarantino demonstrates how immigrant Italians fought prejudice, how later generations positioned themselves in relation to their predecessors, and how the American cinema, usually seen as a cultural institution that works to assimilate, has also served as a forum where assimilation was resisted.

"This book makes a significant contribution to the limited academic literature on Italian American filmmakers. The description and analysis is first-rate and convincing, and its subject matter will appeal to the general public as well as to scholars, researchers, and students in many disciplines."--Frank Tomasulo, coeditor of More than a Method: Trends and Traditions in Contemporary Film Performance

Eloquentia Perfecta

Here's an interesting e-mail from the Rhetoric Society of America --

June 23, 2011

One of RSA's oldest affiliate organizations is the Jesuit Conference on Rhetoric and Composition, organized by RSA former president Pat Bizzell (Holy Cross) and some of her colleagues at the other 27 Jesuit universities. The members are involved in recovering a Jesuit tradition in rhetoric and in using that rediscovery to reinvigorate undergraduate studies around the study and practice of rhetoric. The conference is featured in an article by Kevin Clarke in the May 16, 2011 issue of America magazine. If you would like to know more about this affiliate organization, look at .

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Patrick Leigh Fermor

Patrick Leigh Fermor died "last Friday at his home in Worcestershire," according to the New York Times.

Fermor was 96 at the time of his death.

Patrick Leigh Fermor was the author of many wonderful travel books, including A Time of Gifts, an account, written many years later, of his journey on foot (and boat, horse, and automobile) from London to Constantinople in 1933-35, starting when he was 18 years old.

Another book, Between the Woods and the Water, describes the next leg of the journey, taking up after A Time of Gifts; he never published an account of the final leg of the journey.

In World War II, Fermor led a group that kidnapped the German general in command of Crete.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Rhetoric of Falun Gong in China

Xiao Ming, The Cultural Economy of the Falun Gong in China: A Rhetorical Perspective (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2011).

from the publisher:

Emerging in China in the early 1990s, Falun Gong is viewed by its supporters as a folk movement promoting the benefits of good health and moral cultivation. To the Chinese establishment, however, it is a dissident religious cult threatening political orthodoxy and national stability. The author, a Chinese national once involved in implementing Chinese cultural policies, examines the evolving relationship between Falun Gong and Chinese authorities in a revealing case study of the powerful public discourse between a pervasive political ideology and an alternative agenda in contention for cultural dominance.

Posited as a cure for culturally bound illness with widespread symptoms, the Falun Gong movement's efficacy among the marginalized relies on its articulation of a struggle against government sanctioned exploitation in favor of idealistic moral aspirations. In countering such a position, the Chinese government alleges that the religious movement is based in superstition and pseudoscience. Aided by her insider perspective, the author deftly employs Western rhetorical methodology in a compelling critique of an Eastern rhetorical occurrence, highlighting how authority confronts challenge in postsocialist China.

The author, writing under the pseudonym Xiao Ming, was a Chinese diplomat and official of the Ministry of Culture before coming to the United States. A graduate of Wake Forest University and the University of Pittsburgh, she now teaches communication at a private college in Pennsylvania.