It’s been a mystery and still they try to see
Why somethin’ good can hurt so bad
Caught on a one-way street, the taste of bittersweet
Love will survive somehow, some way

One love feeds the fire
One heart burns desire
I wonder, who’s cryin’ now
Two hearts born to run
Who’ll be the lonely one
I wonder, who’s cryin’ now

So many stormy nights, so many wrongs or rights
Neither could change their headstrong ways
And in a lover’s rage, they tore another page
The fightin’ is worth the love they save…

Only so many tears you can cry
‘Til the heartache is over
And now you can say your love
Will never die

Gypsy: For An ‘American Rose,’ A Thorny Story

NPR –  Scott Simon (Listen to the Story)

To say that Gypsy Rose Lee was a stripper is a bit like calling Frank Sinatra a saloon singer. Which is to say: Yes, but.

She was the most popular theatrical entertainer of her time, famed as much for her wit as for her shtick. Yes, she’d slip off certain articles of clothing. She’d fling gloves or ribbons into the audience. But you’d see just as much flesh in a Doris Day movie. Gypsy Rose Lee always, but always, left her admirers wanting more.

(“Oh, boys, I couldn’t,” she’d tease when the crowd would howl for more. “I’d catch cold.”)

And yet it may be necessary to remind people today that Gypsy wasn’t just a fictional character, the second banana in the musical that bears her name. Sin in the Second City author Karen Abbott has done just that in her latest book, American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare — The Life And Times Of Gypsy Rose Lee. And as she tells NPR’s Scott Simon, the lady in question was “one of a kind.”

“One of my grandmother’s cousins saw Gypsy perform,” Abbott says. The fellow reported back that the star “took a full 15 minutes to peel off a single glove — and that she was ‘so damn good at it that he gladly would have given her 15 more.’ “

“Anyone who can make peeling a glove that enticing, I need to know more about,” Abbot says with a laugh. It wasn’t just that certain something in the way she moved, of course. Lee was clever; her patter sparkled. “Her great accomplishment,” Abbott says, “was the idea of blending sex and comedy.”

She drew a glittering audience. “H.L. Mencken is the one who coined the word ‘ecdysiast’ in her honor,” Abbott says. It’s from “ecdysis,” a word for the process of shedding one’s own skin, snake-style.

Yet the overriding sense she left audiences with was that of “a stripper who puts on more than she takes off — and uses her wit to entice people.” “The idea of turning performance into desire,” Abbott says, was central to her allure. “She really understood that people wanted most what they’d never have.”…]

A ‘Sunnier, More Optimistic’ Version Of A Rough Life

What most people know of her, though — from the Broadway musical Gypsy, and its various film and television adaptations is largely fiction. “It adheres partly to the story Gypsy tells in her memoir,” Abbott explains, “but the story Gypsy tells in her memoir is sort of a sunnier, more optimistic version than what really happened in real life.”

The musical’s Mama Rose is erratic and ambitious, Abbott notes — a woman who wants the best for her daughters, and goes a little mad, pushes too hard.

“In real life, their mother was not somebody who had their best interests at heart all the time,” Abbott says. “I think Gypsy’s way of coping … was to make it a joke, as she did with many things. … She didn’t think anyone would actually believe the real story, so she made her mother a joke.”

The most famous stripper since Salome — and the funnier of the two by far — Gypsy Rose Lee would occasionally refer to herself as a prude. That, her biographer says, was not a joke.

“She had a very complicated relationship with sex,” Abbott says. “She didn’t consider herself to really be a sexual person, but here she is being held up as a sex object. She was a prude, in the sense that she did not want to expose herself — and that’s both literally and figuratively.”

In performance, she’d never turn away from the audience. “She did not want anyone to see her from the back side,” Abbott says. “And she had a very complicated costume arrangement — she didn’t want people to see her tricks, how she kept everything together and how she removed everything so smoothly.

“It was prudery, but it was also private — she was a very private person.” And yet she was a voracious writer. In a Brooklyn writers’ colony — in the company of serious literary lights including W.H. Auden and Carson McCullers — she drew on her showbiz experience for a novel called The G-String Murders. The book became a best-seller. She and McCullers became good friends.

Abbott’s response to her subject was more complicated. “My feelings toward her changed as I wrote the book,” she confesses. “I felt sorry for her; I admired her. I was terrified of her; I wanted to be her friend. I never wanted to see her, or run into her anywhere. It was sort of all over the place.”

Still, Abbott says, she has to acknowledge that Gypsy Rose Lee was “a true original.” “She was very much her own creation, and I hope that comes across,” Abbott says says, “especially in this age of manufactured celebrity. … I mean, who else but Gypsy Rose Lee would get a telegram from Eleanor Roosevelt” — the first lady who came second in that popularity poll — “saying, ‘May your bare ass always be shining’?”

Obama to hand Commerce Dept. authority over cybersecurity ID

CNET – By Declan McCullagh (This story originally appeared on CNET)

President Obama is planning to hand the U.S. Commerce Department authority over a forthcoming cybersecurity effort to create an Internet ID for Americans, a White House official said here today.

It’s “the absolute perfect spot in the U.S. government” to centralize efforts toward creating an “identity ecosystem” for the Internet, White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt said.

That news, first reported by CNET, effectively pushes the department to the forefront of the issue, beating out other potential candidates, including the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. The move also is likely to please privacy and civil-liberties groups that have raised concerns in the past over the dual roles of police and intelligence agencies.

The announcement came at an event today at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, where U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Schmidt spoke.

The Obama administration is currently drafting what it’s calling the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, which Locke said will be released by the president in the next few months. (An early version was publicly released last summer.)

“We are not talking about a national ID card,” Locke said at the Stanford event. “We are not talking about a government-controlled system. What we are talking about is enhancing online security and privacy, and reducing and perhaps even eliminating the need to memorize a dozen passwords, through creation and use of more trusted digital identities.”

The Commerce Department will be setting up a national program office to work on this project, Locke said.

Details about the “trusted identity” project are remarkably scarce. Last year’s announcement referenced a possible forthcoming smart card or digital certificate that would prove that online users are who they say they are. These digital IDs would be offered to consumers by online vendors for financial transactions.

Schmidt stressed today that anonymity and pseudonymity will remain possible on the Internet. “I don’t have to get a credential, if I don’t want to,” he said. There’s no chance that “a centralized database will emerge,” and “we need the private sector to lead the implementation of this,” he said.

Jim Dempsey of the Center for Democracy and Technology, who spoke later at the event, said any Internet ID must be created by the private sector–and also voluntary and competitive.

“The government cannot create that identity infrastructure,” Dempsey said. “If it tried to, it wouldn’t be trusted.”

Inter-agency rivalries to claim authority over cybersecurity have existed ever since many responsibilities were centralized in the Department of Homeland Security as part of its creation nine years ago. Three years ago, proposals were circulating in Washington to transfer authority to the secretive NSA, which is part of the U.S. Defense Department.

In March 2009, Rod Beckström, director of Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity Center, resigned through a letter that gave a rare public glimpse into the competition for budgetary dollars and cybersecurity authority. Beckstrom said at the time that the NSA “effectively controls DHS cyberefforts through detailees, technology insertions,” and has proposed moving some functions to the agency’s Fort Meade, Md., headquarters.

One of the NSA’s missions is, of course, information assurance. But its normally lustrous star in the political firmament has dimmed a bit due to Wikileaks-related revelations.

Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private who is accused of liberating hundreds of thousands of confidential government documents from military networks and sending them to Wikileaks, apparently joked about the NSA’s incompetence in an online chat last spring.

“I even asked the NSA guy if he could find any suspicious activity coming out of local networks,” Manning reportedly said in a chat transcript provided by ex-hacker Adrian Lamo. “He shrugged and said, ‘It’s not a priority.'”

With True Grit, the Coen brothers have given the western back its teeth

… but here’s hoping they don’t follow it with another duff comedy like Burn After Reading

Guardian – By John Patterson

It was always going to happen. As the climax of the Coen brothers‘ 26-year-long, sidling, digression-filled crabwalk towards the pure, distilled essence of Hollywood classicism in their film-making – which they first perfected in No Country For Old Men – the final obstacle facing them was the western, the greatest of all American genres. And now, with True Grit – which opened in the US last month to rapturous acclaim – they have taken it, a genre oft-presumed deader than Custer and Crazy Horse, and given it back its heart, soul and teeth.

They’ve been pawing the sand with their hooves before the western for most of their creative lives; its forms and structures, its rites and rituals, and all its cultural and cinematic reverberations can be discerned throughout their work. No Country For Old Men is as surely a western as any movie set in 1980 can be, while their debut Blood Simple, nominally a neo-noir thriller, unfolds beneath searing Texas sunshine.

Raising Arizona falls within that sub-genre, the Sun Belt-located “southwestern”, which also accommodates films like Junior Bonner, Urban Cowboy and Charley Varrick. Miller’s Crossing has essentially the same plot as A Fistful Of Dollars (which stole it from Kurosawa’s Yojimbo, which nicked it in turn from Hammett’s Red Harvest).

Having first read Charles Portis’s 1968 novel as teenagers, the Coens were allied with it and not with Henry Hathaway’s doddery, miscast 1969 version, in which a major role is essayed, ruinously, by Glen Campbell. The novel’s appeal to the Coens is instantly evident: the voice of Miss Mattie Ross, the 14-year-old narrator, is innocent but plucky, and she’s driven to remarkable feats of big-mouth sass and flat-out courage in the company of killers and vagabonds largely by her bedrock Protestant sanctimony and schoolmarm-ish rigidity.

Portis’s language is an archaic, biblically inflected 19th-century American English, free of contractions, a plainsong not averse to rhetorical filigree and curlicue – a perfect fit for the hyper-literate, word-drunk Coens.

Here’s the thing, though. There’s no shortage of the elements we expect – the note-perfect casting of every role and face; the meticulous technical virtuosity; the sheer joy of word and speech; the fleeting moments of surreal oddness or psychic mania – all except for the cynicism that marred their early work. Here are the Coens in their creative maturity and at their most respectful.

I’m not about to claim they’ve grown up. If past is prologue, they’ll now make another second-rate comedy-duffer like Burn After Reading or Intolerable Cruelty, each of which succeeded a near-masterpiece. But with True Grit coming hard on the heels of the supremely assured (and serious) A Serious Man, dare I hope they are approaching a high plateau in their careers?

Students find treasures in Ike research

Hutch News – By Michael Strand

Imagine you’re the president of the United States, and your resume also includes job titles such as Supreme Allied Commander.

You’ve got a friend/adviser and member of your White House inner circle who’s looking for a private-sector job, and helping him out ought to be a cinch — except everyone you call says “No” because E. Frederick Morrow is black “Eisenhower was tearful about it,” said William Putzier, a senior at Salina Central High School.

Putzier didn’t learn that bit of history from a book in a history class. Rather, he learned it from reading President Dwight Eisenhower’s own words — one of thousands of original documents he and three other Central students pored over this past fall during trips to the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene.

The students will present the results of their work Wednesday at the Salina Public Library’s Community Learning Center in a talk titled “The Eisenhower Roots of Judicial Diversity: Race and Gender,” sponsored by the Salina League of Women Voters.

What the students found, they said, is that even though the civil rights movement is usually thought of as a phenomenon of the 1960s, Eisenhower’s support for desegregation a decade earlier helped make that later progress possible. “He was really supportive of civil rights, and he really set up the courts for that,” Putzier said. “He would appoint people to the courts who supported Brown (v. Board of Education) and other rulings.”

“Before Eisenhower, Truman was president, and he only appointed one woman as a judge,” said Mary Ralston. “Eisenhower wanted more women involved. He thought they had different ideas and perspectives.” And in many ways, they said, Eisenhower’s decision to appoint more women and minorities to the federal bench helped lay the foundation for court rulings that expanded civil rights and dismantled segregation.

In arriving at those conclusions, the students sifted through a trove of historical records, and found many Americans opposed what Eisenhower was trying to do. “We saw one letter, from a woman in Kentucky, who told him she didn’t think 140 million white people should have to mix with black people,” Putzier said.

Even Eisenhower’s own sister was a vocal opponent of some of his policies, Mitchell Pruett said. “In a letter, she sent him some pamphlets that described how labor unions and the NAACP were communist organizations,” and dangerous to America,” Pruett said. “In his letter back, he didn’t even mention it.”

Among the documents they found were some detailing Eisenhower’s efforts to de-segregate the National Guard, Putzier said — and some reasons for doing so. “He thought it would make people more open to de-segregating society,” if they’d served in a racially mixed military, Putzier said.

They also found evidence of a more politically charged reason, he added. “They thought de-segregating the National Guard would hurt the Democrats,” Putzier said. “Southern Democrats opposed de-segregation, and northern Democrats supported it — and they thought doing this would drive a wedge between them.”

But finding those gems took lots of sifting. The library has some 26 million pages in its collection, and while library staff helped direct the students to relevant stuff, “I went through a whole box of folders, looking at each page — and everything was about polio vaccine,” Ralston said.

The research project isn’t technically school work, said Central history teacher Deirdre Hoff, who organized it. “I’d always wanted to do a research project with students, but couldn’t decide on what,” she said. Last spring, she was talking with Ann Zimmerman, president of the Salina League of Women Voters, who suggested Eisenhower and judicial diversity.

At the start of this school year, Hoff contacted students she’d had in advanced placement history classes, to see who was interested in researching the topic — for no grade. None of the four said it was a topic they’d always dreamed of researching — but once they got into it, they said it was interesting.

But besides becoming experts in that narrow niche of American history, the students say they’ve gained other skills, too.
“We’ve learned how to do research,” Putzier said. “You have to dig through piles of information.” “You have to learn to connect lots of different pieces together,” Ralston added.

That’s part of the value of doing original research, instead of relying on others, said Kim Barbieri, education specialist at the Eisenhower Library. And the number of students in high school — and younger — doing such original research is increasing, Barbieri said.

“Twenty years ago, we’d have maybe one group a year,” she said. “By ten years ago, it was a few more — we’ve had students as young as fifth grade working with original documents. It certainly isn’t unusual — we have a lot of kids today who can say ‘I’ve done original research.’ “

Related Cybersecurity Links:

(PC Mag): New Govt Office to Help Create ‘Trusted Digital Identities’

Remarks at Cybersecurity Event with WH Cybersecurity Coordinator

National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (PDF)

Related Cybersecurity Previous Posts:

Introducing U.S. Cyber Command: From An “April Strawberry” To The “Perfect Citizen”

New Cyber Attacks Against American Government and Business Networks

White House Cyberspace Policy Review Requires Full Implementation of HSPD-12

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