Monday, March 31, 2008

Introducing Jack!

Ann and I are thrilled to announce that Monday evening, March 31, at 6:37pm, Ann gave birth to Jack (full name, John Glen Jordan) at Northside Hospital in Atlanta. Jack weighed in at a hefty 9lbs 1oz and measured a lengthy 22in.

Ann was due back on March 23 but, that date having come and gone without the least contraction, Ann and her OBGYN, Dr. Jose Garcia, scheduled an induction for the morning of March 31. Jack's delivery began at 4.30pm Monday afternoon. It was a long and tiring delivery for both Ann and baby, but they're both doing fine. Jack had a little trouble with his breathing at first but he is getting on great now.

We've posted pictures of Jack before (at our 8 week and our 20 week sonograms). But here are few from today's excitement:

The big boy weighing in at 9lbs, 1oz

JD, Jack, and Ann moments after the baby's birth

Jack, filling up his whole baby-carrier

Jack, a close-up in Ann's arms

Stay tuned to this website for more news and pictures of Jack in the coming weeks.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Stephen Mihm on Marketplace

Last week Ann was surprised to hear Dr. Stephen Mihm, a former colleague of mine, lending his voice to a report on American Public Media's popular syndicated news program, Marketplace.

I worked for Stephen Mihm my first semester as a graduate history student at UGA (back when I was the best teaching assistant, ever ... I have an award to prove it), helping with his US History until the Civil War survey. We've kept in touch over the past two years, I think in part due to our complementary interests in journalism and design. And it is largely outside of the classroom that I became aware of his interest in US currency, counterfeiting, and the surprisingly naughty history of money in the US.

So Ann and I weren't surprised that Marketplace's Tess Vigeland chose to talk with Stephen Mihm about the redesigned $5 bill that will be issued on March 13, its enhanced security features that make the bill harder to counterfeit and easier to authenticate, and what those changes will look like. The story is a good discussion of some of the issues raised by the reissue of the currency. I was especially glad to hear Mihm and Vigeland address a little-discussed aspect of the US's currency redesign campaign – does the frequency with which the US issues new currency actually aid counterfeiters by creating confusion on the part of the consumer?

Read or listen to "A $5 facelift gives Lincoln more color" at Marketplace's website...

Stephen Mihm teaches courses on the economic, cultural, and intellectual history of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century America. He is the author of A Nation of Counterfeiters: Capitalists, Con Men, and the Making of the United States and is the co-editor, with Katherine Ott and David Serlin, of Artificial Parts, Practical Lives: Modern Histories of Prosthetics.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Falling Man

At last night's meeting of the Burns Club of Atlanta, Ann and I had the opportunity to hear journalist Tom Junod talk about New Journalism and some of his more famous and notorious exploits at Esquire magazine.

While I remain skeptical about the journalistic value of some of Junod's pieces – in particular, his extremely well-written fictional meeting with former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez – Ann and I were both struck by a piece he wrote for Esquire in September of 2003, "The Falling Man."

"The Falling Man" is an article about the above photograph taken by Richard Drew at 9:41:15 a.m., on September 11, 2001. The subject of the image was one of the people (dubbed "jumpers" by the press) trapped on the upper floors of the building who apparently chose to jump rather than die from the fire and smoke. The photographer has noted that, in at least two cases, newspaper stories commentating on this particular image have attracted a barrage of criticism from a readership who find the image deeply disturbing. In fact, at last night's meeting Junod cited this criticism, and the associated removal of the photograph from the 9/11 canon, as inspiration for his article.

A man I went to college with was in the South Towe that morning. Thankfully he made it down the stairwell in time to et beneath the second plane's impact. I'll never forget the email where he described getting to the lobby and running across the plaza ... where jumpers and papers and glass were raining down around him. He provided no description of the scene except to say that the plaza was indescribable and that the sound of the people hitting the pavement was louder than any gunshot or explosion he'd ever heard. That idea, of that horrible noise, has stuck with me. Thankfully Junod's article helps put that terrible kernel in context.

His poignant conclusion includes the following passage that I found particularly meaningful, both in what it says about the power of the photograph and about the moment that it captures:

"The picture went all around the world, and then disappeared, as if we willed it away. One of the most famous photographs in human history became an unmarked grave, and the man buried inside its frame -- the Falling Man -- became the Unknown Soldier in a war whose end we have not yet seen. Richard Drew's photograph is all we know of him, and yet all we know of him becomes a measure of what we know of ourselves. The picture is his cenotaph, and like the monuments dedicated to the memory of unknown soldiers everywhere, it asks that we look at it, and make one simple acknowledgment.

That we have known who the Falling Man is all along."

With full appreciation of the irony inherent in blogging about an author who disparages the role of bloggers, we wanted to share this powerful piece of journalism.

Read "The Falling Man" at