Columnist: Bob Ashley

May. 24, 2015 @ 03:33 PM

Attracting, embracing newcomers helps shape Durham

Since the 2010 census, Durham has grown by more than 18,000 residents – a growth spurt of more than 8 percent, coming on the heels of 20-percent-plus growth the previous decade.

May. 18, 2015 @ 08:53 AM

Savoring contrasting vibes downtown, and wondering

Last weekend, shopping and strolling through the Durham Farmers’ Market as my family does most Saturdays, it was clear that we’re heading into the bounteous season. Product and purchasers are becoming more plentiful, and I was reminded once again of how the market and its surroundings have transformed in the past decade.

May. 09, 2015 @ 10:22 PM

Preserving legacy of a remarkable school-building program

Around the turn of the 20th century, Julius Rosenwald was building Sears, Robuck and Co. into the mail-order behemoth that embedded itself in American culture as that century’s

May. 03, 2015 @ 07:44 AM

Deep divisions have faded but their legacy remains today

This past Friday marked the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon and the end to decades of war in Vietnam. As often happens these days, I was bemused by the realization that 50th anniversaries now mark events very much part of my memory and events 40 years ago were well into my adult, professional life. 

Apr. 25, 2015 @ 11:10 PM

Habitat’s 30 years of delivering ‘sermons you can see’

In 1985, Joe Harvard was only a few years into what would be a distinguished three-decade tenure leading Durham’s First Presbyterian Church.

The young pastor already was deeply involved in social ministry, and was part of the Durham Congregations in Action group who with others in the would join an effort spanning the globe to help people high on hope but low on assets become homeowners.

“"The Habitat train is leaving the station. If you want to join us, you better get on board,” Harvard said then – a remark recalled this past Tuesday when Habitat for Humanity Durham celebrated its 30th year.

It has much to celebrate.

Apr. 19, 2015 @ 08:17 AM

Celebrating a “dawn of peace” that sadly really wasn’t

Ten days ago, the nation celebrated the 150th anniversary  of Confederate Gen. Robert E.
Lee’s surrender to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia.
Grant declared “the war is over” and ever since that surrender has been seen as the
welcome conclusion to a civil war that tore about the nation less than a century after its

Apr. 12, 2015 @ 11:14 AM

We benefit from taxes, even as we rail against them

In declaring his presidential candidacy last month, Republican Ted Cruz took aim at the Internal Revenue Service.

“Instead of a tax code that crushes innovation, that imposes burdens on families struggling to make ends meet, imagine a simple flat tax that lets every American fill out his or her taxes on a postcard.” Cruz said. “Imagine abolishing the IRS.”

Mar. 28, 2015 @ 05:08 PM

No angry masses, but local efforts to restore social mobility

Driving to work last week, I was struck by a National Public Radio report from China.

Frank Langfitt, the network’s China correspondent, had driven two brothers from Shanghai back to their native village, deep in the countryside.  A theme of the piece was that both brothers, reared on a small farm where their parents still lived and where an outhouse was the toilet facility, had become successful lawyers in Shanghai.

Mar. 21, 2015 @ 03:49 PM

The evil and the good of Greek gods and ‘Greek’ life

Athena was the Greek goddess of war and wisdom, or, some would say, the embodiment of both evil and good.

Mar. 08, 2015 @ 10:12 AM

Daylight Savings Time saves no daylight

To Benjamin Franklin, the sage of Philadelphia, we owe a great deal.
His famous experiments on electricity. His consummate diplomacy that helped enlist France to the cause 
of our independence  from Great Britain. The founding of a public library and the origins of our postal 
service. His contributions to printing and publications. Memorable aphorisms such as “a penny saved is a 
penny earned.”

Feb. 28, 2015 @ 03:27 PM

Bob Ashley: Game results next day a sweet turning point

Many of you noticed and remarked on something we were pretty pleased with a week and a half ago. We had the results of the UNC-Duke basketball game in The Herald-Sun the morning after the game.

Feb. 27, 2015 @ 06:04 PM

Rudy Giuliani, once heroic, now simply foolish

Amazing. Just ... amazing.

Here we are, six years later, six years of mom jeans and golf dates and taking the girls for ice cream. And yet, some of us are still hung up on the perceived "otherness," the "not like us"-ness, of Barack Obama.

Feb. 15, 2015 @ 02:42 PM

Fund drives insure WUNC, public radio’s vital service

In the mid-1970s, my wife, Pat, and I lived in an apartment that was half the second floor of a house on Raleigh’s Chamberlain Street, a few blocks from the N.C. State University campus.

Feb. 07, 2015 @ 09:13 PM

Wrestling with a past that’s ‘not even past’

Just off the University of North Carolina campus on East Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, a little-noticed plaque put there in 2003 (replacing an earlier one) notes that road is part of the Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway.

Jan. 31, 2015 @ 10:49 PM

Google Fiber, a plus for us, could deepen divide

The news that Google, that juggernaut of the Information Age, is bringing super-high-speed Internet connections to Durham and the rest of the Triangle generated no small amount of excitement last week.