Charlottesville Breaking News

He's baaack: Selfish Gene author pens one for the kids

The author of The Selfish Gene is back in Charlottesville. This time, however, the British scientist and atheist extraordinaire (he's also author of the 2006 best-seller The God Delusion) will speak at a venue that may be big enough to hold the crowds clamoring for his rational view of the world.

When he spoke here at Gilmer Hall in 2009, hundreds were shunted to overflow video-feed rooms to hear Richard Dawkins argue that, unlike religion, the theory of Natural Selection sets itself up for disapproval every day. All it would take to undo Darwin, he said then, would be to find something out of place amid the fossils– like a bunny rabbit mixed in a stratum of dinosaurs.

Now he's back in the States to launch a new lecture tour and promote a new book for teens and young adults, The Magic of Reality, to be published by Simon & Schuster on the day of his talk at UVA. We had a few minutes on the phone with Dawkins this morning.

You're 70: what do you think of other people getting to that age without entertaining the idea of a rational existence?
Dawkins: I feel pity for them, and I would like to do all in my power for children in the next 70 years to be brought up in fuller knowledge of the world in whic...

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Gripping: 'Moneyball' not just for sports fans

In the 2002 season, the nation's lowest-paid Major League Baseball team put together a 20-game winning streak, setting a new American League record. The team began that same season with 11 losses in row. What happened between is the stuff of Moneyball, a smart, intense and moving new film that isn't so much about sports as about the war between intuition and statistics.

I walked in knowing what the movie was about, but unprepared for its intelligence and depth. It centers on the character of the Oakland Athletics' general manager, Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), who after a bad start as a major league player, moved over to management and was driven by his hatred of losing. In his previous season, he'd taken the A's to the World Series, only to have them lose and their best three players hired away by richer teams offering bigger salaries.

Faced with rebuilding the team at bargain basement prices, Beane became persuaded by the theories of Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), a nerdy recent Yale graduate who crunched numbers to arrive at a strict cost-benefit analysis of baseball players. Full review.

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Seeing green: Rio/29 cameras nab 7,638 drivers

County police say recent headlines about the PhotoSafe red light camera program at the intersection of Route 29 and Rio Road have given it a bad rap.

"Crashes Increase at Red Light Camera Intersection" read a Charlottesville Newsplex headline last week, which was then touted on cvillenews. However, the news sources may have committed the reporting equivalent of a rolling stop.

According to County police Sgt. Darrell Byers, the Newsplex reported that there were 23 crashes between December 11, 2010, the date the cameras went live, and July 31, 2011, compared to 22 crashes the year before. However, Byers suspects the Newsplex included accidents at entrances to the intersection not monitored by red-light cameras, or simply misinterpreted the data.

According to Byers, between December 2009 and July 2010 (before the cameras were operational), there were 11 crashes in the southbound lane of Route 29 where two cameras are now located, and three crashes in the westbound lane of Rio where one camera is located. Between December 2010 and July 2011 (when the cameras were in operation), there were eight crashes in the southbound Route 29 lane, and one crash in the westbound Rio lane. That's five fewer crashes than a similar period a...

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Confidentiality or censorship? Cav Daily slapped with conduct charges

When the members of the managing board of the Cavalier Daily discovered they had a plagiarist on staff, they turned the offending writer over to the Honor Committee– and published an editorial informing readers.

Now that same board of student journalists finds itself hauled up before the University Judiciary Committee for allegedly violating the confidentiality of the pending Honor case. It's the first time the 121-year-old student newspaper has faced such charges in a case that pits two of the university's most cherished Jeffersonian ideals: its Honor Code and a free press. 

"I was shocked," says Cavalier Daily editor Jason Ally. "That's what my entire staff felt."

The editorial was published Monday, September 12, after what Ally describes as a marathon weekend during which the managing board had wrestled with the thorny issue of coming clean on the plagiarism within the framework of UVA's vaunted Honor Code and its mandate of confidentiality. They decided not to provide readers with the name, gender, or even the section of the paper for which the alleged word thief wrote.

Still, Honor Committee chair Ann Marie McKenzie contended that the editorial violated the University’s Standards of Conduct, and she filed charges with the University Judiciary Committee, a.k.a. UJC, which handles non-Honor student infractions. (The Hono...

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Drug or treat? Taubes headlines 'sugar busting' event

Charlottesville City School Board candidate Ivana Kadija hasn't been quiet about her mission: restricting sugar in schools. In an event tonight dubbed "The Case Against Sugar," Kadija's bringing in an anti-sugar big-gun: Gary Taubes, bestselling author of Why We Get Fat: And What to do About It and Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health. 

Taubes has spent the past decade researching the implications of sugar and believes its massive overabundance in the American diet is at the root of the obesity epidemic and accompanying diseases including diabetes and hypertension. A correspondent for Science Magazine, Taubes has written extensively for the New York Times and is the only three-time recipient of the Science in Society Journalism Award of the National Association of Science Writers.

Following Taubes presentation, a panel discussion moderated by this reporter and an audience Q&A will take place featuring, in addition to Taubes, local family physician Dr. Gregory Gelburd; UVA Associate Research Director Dr. Matthew Trowbridge, who sits on the Advisory Board of the National Policy & Legal Analysis Network (NPLAN) to Prevent Childhood Obesity; Dr. Barbara Stitt...

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Editor's Note
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