Link dump: Apocalypse not now — it’s ‘Idol’ time!

— Jack Betts, the Great State’s foreign correspondent in Raleigh for the past two decades,  debarks more suddenly than but just as gracefully as his positively-addicted readers would expect. Jack will dispute this — of course! — but it was his unrelenting editorials and columns that took the lead in sparing Eastern North Carolina the Navy’s ill-sited landing field.  In his un-bow-tied hours, he has been an unrivaled fool for tools, managing to wring romance out of an aluminum pot that “perked coffee in five states, on four boats and in at least three houses,” a C-ration can opener brought home from the Army and on his last day a humble tin cheese grater. Happy retirement, Jack.

— Yet another remarkable entry in the New York Times’ Disunion blog, this one about North Carolina’s wrenching decision to secede. Overall, it’s been exciting to see historians and journalists in 2011 probing the way to war so much more ambitiously than in 1961.

— Surely someone saved Garner’s historic last Slim Jim for the North Carolina Collection Gallery.

‘Nothing… one of the best feelings in the world’

“The most striking pages…  tell the tale of Texas Rangers All-Star Josh Hamilton’s astoundingly precocious talent.

“At the age of 6, Hamilton could throw a baseball 50 mph — his first peg from shortstop in Little League knocked his bewildered first baseman to the ground. Shortly thereafter, he was elevated to a ‘Majors’ team in North Carolina’s Tar Heel League, where his manager (also his dad) batted him ninth behind boys twice his age for the sake of propriety. The first-grader punched his first home run over the left-center field fence off a pitcher who must have had at least the beginnings of pubic hair.

“It was Hamilton’s earliest spiritual moment: ‘It’s hard to explain, but on contact, I felt nothing. It’s one of the best feelings in the world.’ ”

— From a review of “Beyond Belief” in the literary magazine n + 1 (June 16, 2009)

Hamilton, born and reared in Raleigh, turns 30 today. Not the happiest of birthdays: The Rangers have sent him to the  minors to rehab a leg injury.