Russia has been facing troubling demographics ever since the Soviet breakup two decades ago. The population has contracted by several million people over this period. The birth rate is low. Life expectancy for men is still less than 65 years.
And there is also a sense that many educated, talented people are leaving the country.
To take one example, the world of science lit up in July, when a billionaire Internet investor named Yuri Milner announced nine prizes for some of the world's most innovative thinkers in physics.
Well, the Southeastern Conference season has begun. I have it on good authority that other college football teams around the country will also be playing games this fall.
I don't know when exactly the SEC took over America. I know this is hard to believe, but the epicenter of college football used to be in the Midwest. I'm so old, I can remember when Notre Dame actually mattered, and the real tough players were supposed to come from Western Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 8:51 pm
On Tuesday, NPR's Frank James hosted a live chat during the Democratic convention. He was joined by Neal Carruth, NPR's elections editor; political science professors Sarah Treul of the University of North Carolina and Melody Crowder-Meyer of Sewanee: The University of the South; and Jake Silverstein, editor of Texas Monthly.
Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 5:55 am
There were a lot of preliminaries, but it was Michelle Obama's show Tuesday night at the Democratic National Convention, and she used it masterfully — carrying a rapt crowd along with a narrative of family, hard work, and truth-telling.
Largely wrung of politics, the first lady's speech plotted parallels in her life and that of her husband, President Obama. She pointedly tracked their humble beginnings and strivings in an unspoken but clear contrast to the privileged upbringing of GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.