The State of Things

Serena Williams won the first three Grand Slams of the tennis season and is considered one of the top female tennis players ever but is often scrutinized for her demeanor.
Yann Caradec / Flickr Creative Commons

A new season of television launches this week with hit shows Empire and Black-ish. The shows are breaking records and barriers with audiences, showcasing narratives of black life in America. 

Meanwhile, Viola Davis won an Emmy this weekend for "Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series," becoming the first woman of color to win the award. 

A collection of Blue Bell Wrangler artifacts showcasing their position as a player in both the work clothing and westernwear markets
Evan Morrison

Jeans are one of the most ubiquitous clothing items—found in both high-end designer boutiques and on the shelves at Wal-Mart.

Although they originated as work garments for miners, farmers and cattle workers, they have since become a more everyday item.

George Gopen, professor emeritus of the practice of rhetoric at Duke University
Duke University

George Gopen thought it was a riot when he beat his college roommate in a pun contest.

"If you keep maltreating your girlfriend, she will send you a dijon letter that says poupon you."

While he loves to pun, Gopen does not take words lightly.

He has spent 45 years teaching literature, composition and rhetoric; the complexities and eloquence of the English language.

So when he heard President George W. Bush give a muddled speech in 2001, George Gopen felt compelled to write the White House.

An image of the NC Museum of Natural Science
Public Domain

The State of Things is broadcasting live Friday at 12 p.m. from the Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh. You can stream the show live below:

NC General Assembly; State Legislature.
Dave Crosby / Flickr Share-Alike

The North Carolina legislature gave final approval to a $21.7 billion budget early Friday morning. The vote ended a stalemate that pushed budget negotiations three months past their original deadline. The final deal maintains funding for teacher assistants, cuts the income tax rate to 5.5 percent and expands the sales tax. 

Periodical Cicada Shells
Bill Reynolds

Arthropods comprise the great majority of the animal kingdom. Although many humans see them mostly as pests, they are vital to our everyday lives. They are pollinators, decomposers, and a nutrient-rich food source for a wide range of species.  

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences celebrates the world of bugs this Saturday with BugFest, a daylong event with entomologists, scientists, and more than 100 exhibits, crafts, games and activities.

Neil Cribbs is a blues and Americana guitarist based in Raleigh
Staton Carter Photography

Neil Cribbs has had a full tour of North Carolina scenery in his life. He grew up in Wilmington and attended college at Appalachian State University.

He spent a few years working outside the state after college but returned home and now lives in Raleigh. Cribbs is a guitarist and singer with many musical influences including folk, blues and Americana.

State Senate chamber
Dave DeWitt

Gov. Pat McCrory said this morning he will sign the budget compromise the state Senate approved this week.

The House is expected to give the $21.7 billion spending plan final approval tonight or tomorrow morning before it heads to the governor's desk. 

Scott Dikkers is the founding editor of the satirical newspaper and website The Onion
Nicki Fietzer

The Onion is known for it's satirical news with headlines like "Study Reveals: Babies Are Stupid" and "CIA Realizes It's Been Using Black Highlighters All These Years."

But for Scott Dikkers, making fake news is often serious work. Dikkers is a founding editor of The Onion and served as it's longest serving editor-in-chief. 

Pictures from Dolly Sods Wilderness in West Virginia, which partially inspired Null for his book
Matthew Neill Null

Writer Matthew Neill Null calls West Virginia a museum of failed enterprise. He argues that industries like logging, coal mining, oil extraction, and now hydraulic fracturing, have irreversibly marked the state’s history and landscape.

Null has a long personal history with the area—his family has lived there since before it became a state, and his writing aims to explore the lesser-known stories of the land and the people who lived on it.