Bestowing the nation’s symbolic basketball on… Kansas?

“If the United States had an official sport, what would it be? Baseball can call itself the national pastime until the sun burns out, but the correct answer is good old American football….

“But what if you had to assign one sport to each state, and could use each of those sports just once? How would you disperse our favorite pastimes among the 50 states and Washington, D.C.?…”

— From “The United Sports of America” by Josh Levin at Slate (Oct. 7, 2013)

OK, so Kansas gets the basketball. North Carolina got Ole Roy.

And there’s this exchange in the comments:

“I don’t want to be the person to inform North Carolina it didn’t get men’s college basketball.”

“Yeah, that’s pretty ridiculous. On the other hand, Kansas doesn’t really have anything else….”


Nobel Prize-winning physicist Peter Higgs did his math at UNC


The awarding of a Nobel Prize to Peter Higgs yesterday marked the recognition of a lifetime’s effort to understand how particles acquire mass. The English theoretical physicist is the namesake for the Higgs boson, known commonly as the “God particle,” the sub-atomic particle that gives mass to other particles. Higgs did some of his early work on proving the existence of the boson during time at the Bahnson Institute of Field Physics at UNC-Chapel Hill from 1965 to 1966. He was invited for the academic year to study gravitation. But, his former UNC colleagues say, Higgs used his time in Chapel Hill to perform some of the complex mathematical equations that suggested the existence of the boson that eventually bore his name. He compiled that research into a paper (a typed copy of which exists in the North Carolina Collection) published in Physical Review in May 1966.


Rejected leopardite couldn’t change its spots

On this day in 1888: The long-delayed Washington Monument opens to the public. Among the 193 carved memorial stones lining its inner walls is a block of leopardite — a rare, black-spotted granite — representing North Carolina.

The stone is the second submitted from the Charlotte quarry; the first was rejected by the monument committee.

The rejected stone will be brought back to Charlotte and used as an “upping block” to help passengers into their carriages. It remains on the downtown Square until street improvements in the 1940s require its removal to the grounds of the Mint Museum.


Miscellany responses make front-page news

“Jerry Moore, who paints houses in Black Mountain, had just bought his first computer, and he Googled ‘Stonewall Jackson Training School.’  Up popped a UNC Chapel Hill website with a grainy black-and-white photograph of boys cultivating a corn field at the school in 1937. Linked to that was another website with a glowing description of Stonewall Jackson.

“Moore, 60, was so upset by what he read, he broke years of silence and posted a comment: ‘I remember severe cruelty.’ He accused his adult caretaker of hitting him in the face, kicking him in the ribs and slapping his penis with a rubber strap.

“Other men found Moore’s lament and added their own, launching a painful conversation that continues today.”

— From “Stonewall Jackson secrets: ‘Children against monsters’ “ in today’s Charlotte Observer

Building on the scores of vivid — and often shocking — responses to Jason Tomberlin’s Miscellany post of May 27, 2010, Elizabeth Leland has put together a powerful indictment of how North Carolina tortured generations of misfit boys, often guilty of nothing more than bad luck.

Who knows how long this story would have remained buried without Jason’s post to provoke, however inadvertently, such an outpouring of horrendous memories?


Check out what’s new in the North Carolina Collection.

Several new titles just added to “New in the North Carolina Collection.” To see the full list simply click on the link in the entry or click on the “New in the North Carolina Collection” tab at the top of the page. As always, full citations for all the new titles can be found in the University Library Catalog and they are all available for use in the Wilson Special Collections Library.

Congressionally approved recipes from the collection.

History of Capitol Bean Soup - Capitol Cook Book

The History of Capitol Bean Soup from Capitol cook book : with best wishes from Congressman James T. Broyhill.

Congressman Howard Coble's Favorite Breakfast Pork Brains 'n Eggs - Capitol Cook Book

Congressman Howard Coble’s Favorite Breakfast Pork Brains’n Eggs…A Southern Delight from Capitol cook book : with best wishes from Congressman James T. Broyhill.

Dee's Dip with Belgian Endive - Congressional Cook Book

Dee’s Dip with Belgian Endive from Congressional cook book.

Bobbi Fielder's Cocktail Meatballs - Capitol Cook Book

Bobbi Fiedler’s Cocktail Meat Balls from Capitol cook book : with best wishes from Congressman James T. Broyhill.

Crab Mornay - Congressional Cook Book

Crab Mornay from Congressional cook book.

Fettucini Fabuloso - Capitol Cook Book

Fettucini Fabuloso from Capitol cook book : with best wishes from Congressman James T. Broyhill.

Escalloped Oysters - Congressional Cook Book

Escalloped Oysters from Congressional cook book.

Pumpkin Chiffon Pie - Capitol Cook Book

Pumpkin Chiffon Pie from Capitol cook book : with best wishes from Congressman James T. Broyhill.

Where North Carolina goes to feed its news habit

Would it surprise you to learn that North Carolina online news consumers are disproportionately attached to USA Today, Fox News, Time and Huffington Post?

The explanation of how this was determined is neither simple, intuitive nor entirely persuasive…. but interesting. (Hat tip, Poynter.)


“Cult-Favorite” Peanuts from Rocky Mount a Hit in Brooklyn

A review of a Brooklyn bar in this week’s New Yorker includes a surprise local connection. Among the bar snacks served at Achilles Heel, a new bar in Greenpoint, are duck mousse, domestic cured hams, and “cult-favorite Methodist peanuts, roasted by the men of the Englewood United Methodist Church in Rocky Mount, North Carolina.”

Looks like New Yorkers have been onto these for a while. A 2010 New York Times Magazine article praised the Rocky Mount peanuts as the “best roasted snacking peanuts” around. In 2007, New York magazine ran an article called “Battle of the North Carolina Church Club Peanuts,” pitting the Rocky Mount nuts vs. peanuts from the Methodist Church in Mt. Olive.

I guess we’re known for more than barbecue.

History Ph.D.s casting their nets more widely

“The national conversation about the merits of graduate education has intensified, and concerns have grown about whether programs are admitting more students than the academic market can bear. Many colleges have shown reluctance to produce Ph.D.-placement information, knowing that it would underscore the stark reality that doctoral students often do not get the kind of jobs they want for the money and the time they have spent in their graduate programs…

“Universities’ track records on providing placement data for Ph.D. programs vary widely…. Some individual departments also have good information about their graduates, including the history departments at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Rutgers University.”

— From “Do You Know Where Your Ph.D.’s Are?” by Audrey Williams June in the Chronicle of Higher Education (September 23, 2013)

So how do those Chapel Hill history grads use their doctorates? Ever more nontraditionally, says department chair W. Fitzhugh Brundage, William B. Umstead Professor of History:

“About 2/3 are in academia, either tenure-track or administration.  Roughly 10% are in public history positions (museums, etc.) while the remainder are pursuing all manner of careers.

“As a department we are now making a concerted effort to inform our graduate students that academia is not the only valid career path.  Just as no one would contend that any law school graduate who doesn’t practice law is a failure, so too we stress that the training one receives while earning a PhD has utility whether one enters academia or not.

“To better prepare our graduates for alternative careers we have now initiated a summer program of funded internships so that students can build networks outside of the traditional academic workplace.  And we are having alumni who have pursued non-academic careers offer wisdom and perspective as well.”