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Today's word on

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Scene: Calvin and Hobbes are reading the newspaper.

Calvin: "I like following the news! News organizations know I won't sit still for any serious discussion of complex and boring issues. They give me what I want: Antics. Emotional confrontation. Sound bites. Scandal. Sob stories and popularity polls all packaged as a soap opera and horse race! It's very entertaining."

Hobbes: "Then commentators wonder why the public is cynical about politics."

Calvin: "You can tell this is an in-depth story because it's got an article next to a chart."

--Calvin & Hobbes by cartoonist Bill Watterson, 2005


Utah's Topaz internment camp subject of 2005 Connections book selection

• Author to speak Aug. 27

Adjusting from high school to a collegiate career can be a daunting journey. Unknown experiences and expectations can be stressful to the student. Those issues, among others, brought about a specially designed program -- Connections -- for first-year students at Utah State University.

Connections is a course specifically designed to ease a student's transition to Utah State, providing a foundation for a successful experience. The course introduces critical college study skills, time-management techniques and test-taking strategies. It also promotes awareness of the campus community and the development of a support network of classmates, faculty and staff to ensure a successful beginning to the academic experience. Students are encouraged to explore and become involved in the Logan community, enjoying and participating in the art and recreational opportunities available.

Part of the Connections experience is the summer reading experience -- students read a selected title and complete assignments associated with the work. This year students are reading a book with ties to Utah's history, When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Otsuka. The work is a fictional account of one family's experience in Utah's Topaz internment camp during World War II. A week of events and activities centered on the book culminate in an address by the author Saturday, Aug. 27. The public, including a number of local book clubs, has been encouraged to read the book, and all are invited to attend this session with the author.

Otsuka's lecture begins at 9:30 a.m. in the Kent Concert Hall of the Chase Fine Arts Center on the USU campus. The lecture is free.

"We encourage individuals and book clubs in the community to read this book with us," said Christie Fox, head of the Connections 2005 literature selection committee. "We hope everyone will join us in welcoming the author to Logan."

"When the Emperor was Divine" was published in 2002 by Anchor Books and has been widely praised for its style, readability and accurate portrayal of this period in American politics and history. The New York Times called the book "terse but eloquent rendered with a sure sense of detail."

The Connections summer reading experience was created to bring all Connections students immediately into an intellectual experience similar to future academic activities at Utah State University, said Noelle Call, director of the Academic Resource Center. "It is part of the university's mission to help students develop intellectually, personally and culturally, so that they may serve the people of Utah, the nation and the world," she said.

The book was chosen because it explores a period of American history when the country struggled with issues similar to those faced today — issues of conflict between freedom and security.

"As we learn to live in a post-9/11 world, we must all ponder the choices and issues facing us," Call said.

"In addition, the book demonstrates adapting to a strange environment, which is an issue particularly pertinent to first-year students."

The book's selection is timely since the 60 th anniversary of the conclusion of the second world war, and the closure of the internment camps, including Topaz, was just marked. Residents of Delta and Provo had the chance to see a performance piece developed by a San Francisco troupe based on found objects from the Topaz site. Utah resident Renee Morita wrote of her family's experience in a Utah Voices selection ("Transforming a grave injustice into opportunity for others," June 5, 2005) for The Salt Lake Tribune.

Each year a committee selects the Connections reading selection. This year marks the first time a work of fiction has been selected. The first book was a collection of poems by May Swenson. The second book was a biography, Hope in the Unseen: An American Odyssey from the Inner City to the Ivy League.

For more information on Connections 2005 or the reading selection, contact Call at (435) 797-1194.


Copyright 1997-2005 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
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