Monday, January 31, 2005

My Little Brother

My brother wears me out -- my little brother. I think that he must like have a permanent extension cord attached to him or something. He just doesn't stop moving -- ever. When he's relaxing, he's fixing a faucet or painting a lamp. I mean when he's relaxing. You should see me relaxing. (Hint: don't look for the Reader's Digest fix-it book on my bedside table.)

So we get home today and Trudy announces with glee a letter from him.

I bet it's something about basketball, she says.

See, he's also like Mr. Sports. Not in the couch potato way or in the go to the bar and stare at ESPN hanging down from the ceiling way. But like really into it. Surfing the web to checkout the history of basketball teams. Sending out emails of proclamation when a great coach retires. Going out running when he's got a few minutes of time and taking the kids with him.

So anyway, Trudy's on to him: enough letters have arrived here of late with clippings from the sports page. She's like so on to him. And sure enough, the letter contained a full-page clipping about basketball -- a Tribune full-pager about the 100-year University of Illinois basketball tradition with a single sentence highlighted in green about Eddie Johnson, who played there when we went to school.

One single sentence highlighted. No letter. No signature. No note other than that implied by the article and the highlighted sentence.

He must have read the article at lunch sometime. With 35 seconds of free time on his hands and nothing else to do, he must have thought, What a perfect time to send a clipping to my brother! And he must have raced to the drawer of pens to get the highlighter and then to some other drawer to grab an envelope and then folded the full-page article into it and licked it shut.

I bet he even had 10 seconds left when he was done.

My little brother makes me tired. I think I'll go to bed, now.

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 Sunday, January 30, 2005

The Germ of Complaint

I have it in my mind to complain today -- depressing politics, horrific war, depressing culture. But complaining gets a bit tiresome, or so some say. And it doesn't really accomplish much, or so say others. Nevertheless, the germ of complaint is on the tip of my tongue. Who am I to stop it?

But it won't come out, this tongue-tip urge. Although the thoughts are there, the words won't come together like they usually do.

So in the end, I guess it must just be this way. The germ will have to bide its time.

I suspect I'll get another chance.

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 Friday, January 28, 2005

Of, By, For and Amidst the People

George W. Bush recently spoke about freedom and liberty and the commitment of the United States to those principles.

Some recent observations by Larry Lessig about his trip to Brazil for the World Social Forum demonstrate that such commitment is brewing in other places, too, and in ways that make formal speeches by distant politicians seem cold and disingenuous:

[Lessig/different worlds]: But more striking still was just the dynamic of this democracy. ..l. Here's a Minister of the government, face to face with supporters, and opponents. He speaks, people protest, and he engages their protest. Passionately and directly, he stands at their level. There is no distance. There is no "free speech zone." Or rather, Brazil is the free speech zone.

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 Thursday, January 27, 2005

On Gonzales

Thoughts on Judge Gonzales:

  • On suspending US law. The judge's recent testimony clearly indicates that he believes that American laws governing humane treatment can be suspended when US forces move detainees overseas. This strikes me as a back door permitting the circumvention of legal constraints intended to guarentee human rights.
  • On the legal definition of humane. When presented with questions about humane treatment, the judge points out that humanely has no precise legal definition. We all laughed when Clinton said, It depends on what the definition of is is. How is this different?
  • On food and shelter and clothing. The judge suggests that humane treatment could reasonably be construed to be the provision of food and shelter and clothing etc... It's that simple. This is a sound byte answer crafted to make the Administration's policy on torture sound reasonable. It evades the question by ignoring the core issue of our use of treatments like waterboarding and snarling dogs on detainees.
  • On immunizing acts of torture. Although the judge reassures us that the Administration will not immunize acts of torture, he simultaneously insists that Congress not enact laws forbidding such immunization. Clearly, he believes that this ought to be a tool in our arsenal.
We are in pitched war with the forces of evil. To win, we must demonstrate to our friends and enemies (and everyone in between) the strength of the values and laws by which we live.

I have to doubt about Judge Gonzales's commitment to winning this war; however, the net effect of policies like those he has crafted (and his justifications of them) makes us appear as hypocrites. So branded, we lose credibility in the eyes of the world and thereby sacrifice our most potent weapon in this long-term fight.

For these reasons, I oppose the nomination of Judge Gonzales to be Attorney General.

I am not well-read on these issues. I am not an expert. Although I have firm views on the matter, I depend on others to help me articulate them. Most of the facts above are discussed in a recent entry on ACSBlog.

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Outside With My Cat

While rummaging around the other day, I stumbled upon these abandoned words:

I stood outside with my little cat. On the grass. By the trees. In the warm evening air.

We stood out there and watched the sky. Ablaze in pink and lavender. Against an aqua blue.

What it is that causes one to think thoughts like these and commit them to paper? Casting a cold, analytical eye to purpose, their value hardly counts for anything. So let's just consider them a simple little water color and then move along, shall we?

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 Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Morning Humility

I woke up a few days ago with remembered images of people jumping out of towers.

From under the warmth of our comforter with the dim light of morning coming in thru the blinds, I remembered the fire and the mayhem and those people jumping. I thought of the agony of such a decision, with searing heat behind and a fall to the death ahead. And I thought of homeless families on flattened beaches. And I thought of hungry children. And I thought of war-ravaged lands.

And I was humbled by the good fortune I have had.

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Above it all

Across the street, out this window, the flood light on the neighbor's house shines, reflecting off the window of his pickup truck. Next door, the cold glow of a farmyard light in suburbia shines dimly in the cold night air. Overhead, the pink-orange glow of the streetlight shines tonite as every night whether we're home to turn on the lights or not.

And above it all, the full moon rides across the sky.

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 Tuesday, January 25, 2005

When Are You Coming Home?

I wanted to sing a song for my grandmother when we laid her to rest. I wanted to sing or do something musical, but the musical genes in this family seem to have passed me by (singing with the dog from the shower in the mornings notwithstanding).

I wanted to sing for her, because she used to love it so much when we sang -- even if most of the songs we sang were goofy ones. And that was just the problem. I couldn't get past the goofy tunes echoing in my head.

We buried my grandmother in the Bunting plot last fall, next to my grandfather. My brother sang a song while his children and mine assisted with percussion. My cousin played her flute, and we all sang with her. Jasper (of course) played the violin.

But I did not sing. Instead, I said some words.

It has been many years since I left the midwest and came to Texas. And for years after I left, without fail when I saw my grandmother, the first thing she would do would be to take my hand in hers. (She always held our hands when she had something important to say.) She would take my hand and ask me, When are you coming home from Texas, Davy?

For a long time I didn't know the answer. Then after a while, I discovered that the answer was never, but I didn't have the heart to tell her.

I don't know, Nani. I really do like it in Texas.

Then we would talk about something else. And she would watch the sun dancing on the waves and listen to the sound of the wind in the forest canopy and smile at sight of great grandchildren running barefoot on the sand. She would sit on the top of the hill and look out over the water at the sun dancing on the waves as it had done year after year, summer after summer in that place.

I don't know, Nani.

I was never able to explain. And I wasn't able to sing a song for her when we gathered to say goodbye.

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 Monday, January 24, 2005

Just Up The Lane

Just up the lane. Just beyond the greening field. Just over the hill. On the other side of the horizon.

There is a place that I wonder about. There is a place that I can just barely see. There is a place that I will take you to.

Up the lane. Beyond the field. Over the hill. To show you where I have been.

Credit: John Bailey's photo entitled Just up the lane posted at Journal of A Writing Man.

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 Sunday, January 23, 2005

Smiling Man from the Past

It was in a dream.

We sat at a table in a restaurant, the three of us: Trudy, Ben and I. We had just finished eating and were ready to go. Ben and Trudy got up to leave, and as I was putting on my coat I noticed a man at a table staring at me. Trudy and Ben had left the room.

The man was sitting there next to where we sat with a woman whose back was to us. When I looked over at him, he smiled and said something. I think he said my name.

I was perplexed for a moment. I didn't say a thing but stopped to look more carefully at his face. He stared back at me, smiling. His hair was straight and long, pulled into a pony tail. His eyes glinted as he smiled, waiting for my reaction.

His eyes gave him away. His face was younger than it should have been, as young as years ago when we were in college. His hair was longer than it was then. And I was still not sure I knew the woman he was sitting with, but I recognized the man from his eyes.

Chris? I stuttered.

His smile broadened. It had been more than 20 years.

I'm sure the woman was LeeAnn, although she never turned around. But this was in a dream, and that is where I woke up.

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David Weinberger on Messiness

A talk (mp3) by David Weinberger at the recent Conference on blogging, journalism and credibility.

Weinberger talked about (1) tagging, (2) philosophy and (3) blogging. Here are his concluding remarks:

But I'm not sure that this is a temporary mess. Because it seems to me that we're building piles of leaves. And these leaves are infused with human meaning. And we want to be able to sort and manage and take these leaves and build them into things we we haven't thought of before, these leaves of individual meaning, of points of view, of tags.

This is what we're up to. We're engaged in a global project of taking down the trees and rolling in the leaves. ... I think, maybe, we're going to go through this transition, this messy transition, and it's going to be a transition into an enormous, chaotic, creative, human mess. And the world will be so much better off for it.

(My own transcription from the mp3 clip of his talk. Emphasis in the original speech. Other transcripts and audio clips from the conference are available at The Longest Now.)

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Johnny Lang Last Night

Brandi Carlile was great. Her words climbed all the way into the balcony without diminishing a bit. They washed over us as she strummed her acoustic guitar and belted out the words to her songs and tossed her kdlang-esque voice back and forth from clear highs to rich lows. To either side of her, the shaven, barefoot Hanseroth brothers sang and played guitar and bass. The crowd cheered. And they were just the warmup band.

When the lights dimmed again and Jonny Lang came out with his bass player and drummer, the stage lit up in a red glow and the crowd cheered. His hair was cut short. His years were not many -- so few he looked more like a college kid than the blues man we were about to hear.

He sat in the middle of the bright cone of light thrown onto him by the spot, while the bass player sat back in a metal folding chair and the drummer sat on a electronic percussion box that he played with his hands between his legs. After that first song, the rest of the band joined them on stage.

Jonny's fingers raced up and down his guitars. (He played a different one for each number, each being tuned and re-tuned in turn offstage.) He threw his Cocker-like voice at us, closing his eyes, tossing his head back and grimacing as his notes climbed to where no notes should have been. Song after song, he did this, singing high and whispering low, stomping his left foot in beat with the rest of the band.

He sang the blues. He strummed and picked and drove his guitar. The crowd whistled. They stood. They cheered. Afterwards, the band came back on stage for four more songs. And when those were over, they came out to the edge of the stage and held hands, Jonny in the middle, and bowed together like the cast at the end of a musical. Musical it was.

Saturday night at the Paramount Theater. Austin, TX.

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 Saturday, January 22, 2005

Was That Stuff Enough?

Was it enough, the stuff that we did while you were here?

Green grass in January. Sun and sky and sitting outside. Walking on the tiled floors in the rotunda downtown. Looking at the pansies (but not picking them). Taking the kids to the park with the swings and the stones and the places to run and jump. Napping or trying to. Eating enchiladas and tacos and queso and beans. Shopping for running shoes. Eating cake with vanilla ice cream.

Was it enough?

We didn't wrap your presents. And there was a pair of socks in the lot that weren't meant for you. And in spite of the colored pens on the table, we didn't give you a card to commemorate the day.

But we sat at the table in the evening trying to keep our eyes open until the last person played their tiles on the Scrabble board. And although you were stuck with a 'Q' at the end and I with a 'K', it seemed to me that that wasn't so bad.

I think it was enough, the stuff that we did.

The little stuff. Not the big, go-out-on-the-town stuff that I've never been good at. But the I-remember-when-we-went-to-Texas stuff that the kids will carry with them for the rest of their years.

Yes, I think that that stuff was enough. Happy Birthday!

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Business Woman in Black

She was a business woman. She wore a black suit and shiny black heels. As soon as she got off the plane, she made straight for an empty seat in the terminal. She threw down her rolling suitcase. It hit the floor with a loud bang.

The woman was on the phone, holding it between her shoulder and ear as she leaned over to unzip her suitcase. She unzipped with one hand and held her purse with the other, all the while talking into her tiny phone. As her suitcase opened, she completed her call and dialed another.

The inside of her suitcase was a shambles. It held an over-full notebook, loose papers, and a bulging daytimer bookmarked with even more papers and two spiral notebooks. There was a bathroom bag in her suitcase, too, but no clothes. This was clearly her office.

The woman in black opened her daytimer and explained to the person on the other end of the phone that she had another phone conference in a few minutes. Evidently the person on the other end corrected her about the time.

It's at 2pm Mountain, 1pm Pacific, the woman in black said.

I looked at my watch. At that moment it was ten minutes to 3pm, and we were in Denver. If she had a 2pm meeting, then she had already missed it.

The person on the other end of the phone must have said this. But the woman in black repeated herself, thinking that certainly this other person was confused. Then she looked at her watch, apologized, and scheduled a meeting in her daytimer for some other time.

The person on the other end was evidently her secretary. The woman in black said that she had lost her travel itinerary and needed to know where she was staying that night. She wrote something down in her daytimer, and then she asked where she was going to go tomorrow. She wrote that down, too.

With all her questions answered and meetings rescheduled, the woman in black zipped her suitcase shut, grabbed the handle, stood up and walked away.

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 Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Northbound Commute

There's a place not too far from here where the buzzards turn on updrafts coming off the hills. They circle and climb and get smaller and smaller in the sky. Beneath them, the oak and cedar hills and limestone cliffs must be a sight to see ... and the morning inbound traffic lined up bumper-to-bumper.

There we sit every morning, lined up bumper to bumper with all the vehicle-imprisoned others crawling to work. There we sit, constrained in northbound lanes, shifting up and shifting down, clutching in and clutching out, listening to the news for the umpteenth time.

And there are those buzzards, turning circles in the sky with a view of all creation before them. There they are looking down at us wondering why on earth we would do this every day.

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 Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Trading Rocks

We took two rocks to Kentucky last year, additions for my cousin's yard. Smooth, white and flat.

We brought eight rocks back in turn, scrounged from a pile by the side of their drive. Rough, brown and flaky.

What will geologists a century from now think when they find these out-of-place specimens?

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I'm not a boat guy. I'm willing to leach off of boat guys, but I don't have one myself. So Crownline Boats not exactly a place I frequent. But it turns out that they're pushing out boats made in the United States by skilled American labor. No outsourcing. No Wal-Martization. And they're succeeding:

[About Crownline]: The first boat produced, a 182BR, rolled off the line on March 25, 1991. At that time Crownline employed less than 25 people and had yet to sign a definitive dealer. ... By July 1991, Crownline had grown out of its Whittington location and was forced to find a larger facility.

Here's the kicker. Look at their philosophy:

  • Design a boat that produces optimum performance
  • Set the standard with unique, contemporary style that catches and holds the discerning eye.
  • Build it with the best materials and most skilled boat builders available.
  • Include in it the standard features the experienced boater needs and wants.
  • Offer it at a price that even the first-time boater can afford.

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 Monday, January 17, 2005

Weekend's End

One light is on in the house. One set of fingers clicks on a keyboard. Only one set of many that did the same during the day.

The street outside is quiet. No lights shine in the windows of the houses across the street, only the cold glow of the streetlight overhead. The silhouette of the pointy-leafed agarita stands motionless in the still winter night. The temperature is dropping, but there are many leaves blown in and gathered at its base.

The dog has gladly gone to bed. And the little boy (gone long ago). And the big boy, too, asleep instantly as soon as he lay down -- a welcome post-sleepover benefit. And the turning and cover-pulling of the girls in the living room has settled down, allowing grateful parents to retire. The temperature is dropping, but there are blankets enough for all.

One set of fingers still clicks on a keyboard in the light of one last light. But those fingers are slowing. And that light will soon be off.

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 Sunday, January 16, 2005

Liza's Pens

I gave Liza some pens for her birthday, colored ones with narrow points on one end and broad brushlike points on the other. And I wrote her name on the label of the wrapped box with colored pens of my own. The letters were bright and had a bit of a 3D look. She made me promise to show her how to draw them sometime.

Tonite they arrived for a visit. In the evening, Liza went to get her pens. I reached for mine and fetched a stack of white paper from our bottomless stash. As she pulled her chair up to the table, holding her new pens in hand, she asked, Should we get started?

I agreed that we should. And I showed her how to use those pens. To make sun beams. To make sort-of pictures, and fast ones, too. To make spaceships approaching distant planets. To make a fancy letter 'g'. To add a little pizzazz to a letter.

She laughed and said, I like that -- add a little pizzazz.

And then, How do you draw clouds, Uncle Dave?

I reached for my lightest blue and pulled off the broad tip cover. Here is one way, I said. And as she watched each move of my hand, I drew three loops and a few fast lines underneath.

She gasped and then picked up her own blue pen.

Maybe tomorrow we'll talk about those 3D letters.

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Winter Visit

My brother's family arrived from Chicago today. Sad to say, we will not have warm weather to offer them during their stay.

With smiles on their five faces, they walked towards us as we waved and jumped, with smiles on ours. Their bags were waiting. Our cars (two of them for eight of us) were parked nearby. We went to eat and then drove home.

At home, it didn't take long for the adults to begin to disappear. One by one, they headed towards beds in one room or futons in another. The kids resisted to the last, teaching each other computer games, pasting pictures of clouds and flowers and dogs up in the kitchen.

So the weather won't be warm. But the rooms of this now-quiet house are littered with sleeping bodies. And the refrigerator is decorated in a way it hasn't been for many years.

Perhaps the cold weather won't matter.

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 Saturday, January 15, 2005

A Morning Like This

On a morning like this, when the cat's grey fur blends with the cold stone of the terrace wall and with the white, featureless sky.

On a morning like this, when my cold fingers peck at the keyboard and my coffee cools faster than I can drink it.

On a morning like this, when a quick shower lasts much longer than it should, because of the bone-warming comfort it brings.

On a morning like this, halfway thru the month of January, I long for spring.

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 Thursday, January 13, 2005

What I Told Kert

I told Kert I'd meet him at the front door in the morning to let him in. I gave him my office phone number just in case. He wrote it down and asked for my cell number.

I don't have a cell, I said and returned to where I was sitting.

You don't!? he exclaimed. Then I think he said something like, Well good for you, although that might have been a voice in my head.

I wanted to add, And we don't have a television, either, but I thought better of it and held my tongue. I work for a high-tech company, after all. We're not supposed to be Luddites.

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 Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Untold Story

I was going to tell you a story about the other day, about the other morning at Einstein's. I was going to tell you about how we waited in line to order our bagels and how we were excited that we had filled up our Sandwich Club card and had a free one coming.

I was going to tell you how we wondered whether they'd give us my ham and egg and cheese sandwich free or whether they'd give Trudy her bagel and cream cheese free, because it was the less costly of the two.

I was going to tell you how Trudy said, Certainly not. It's a Sandwich Club card, after all. But how when we got to the register the guy rang up both the sandwich and the bagel (and our two coffees). And how Trudy watched the register like a hawk and watched him ring up the discount.

I was going to tell you how he rang up a discount for the less costly of the two -- a free bagel and schmear. But how Trudy saw him do that and blurted out, Ohh no. A firm statement of fact, as if to say, I don't think so. And how the guy realized his mistake as she spoke, but it still looked like he was trying to charge us for the less costly of the two.

Ohh no, she said, as if to say, I don't think so.

I was going to tell you about that.

But then she found out (because I told her I was going to tell you). And she thought it unfair -- unfair that I tell all these stories about her, and she has no forum in which to tell her (many) stories about me.

She thought it unfair, and she was right. So I changed my mind, and I won't tell you that story, after all.

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 Tuesday, January 11, 2005

New Moon Scroungers

With our dog leading the way and a dark, new-moon-lit sky overhead, we went out for a walk around the neighborhood.

That was the end of the story as we left it last. But there is something about that walk that I didn't tell you about. Something about us that I didn't tell you about.

As we walked in the dark of the new-moon night, passing the garbage cans set out for the next day's pick-up, we also passed something else. Dotting the lawnscapes here and there up and down our street were little piles of stuff. Stuff to be discarded. Stuff those folks no longer needed. Stuff that looked mighty fascinating in the dark. It was bulky-trash pickup week in our neighborhood.

There were microwave ovens. There were even old TVs. There were vacuum cleaners, three in a row at in front of one house. There were nameless contraptions that the boy picked up and turned, sending a squealing-squeaking sound into the night. Across the street, there were tangled knots of some kind of cord that the boy loudly proclaimed I needed.

Trudy walked quietly. Gazing wistfully at all the stuff, bending over only sometimes to get a better look.

There was so much stuff, but I resisted. I steeled myself and fought the temptation to take the tangled knot or the squeaking contraptions. I resisted, because I had standards, after all. That, and I had my sights on the garden edging strip I saw earlier from the car. It was just around the corner: a big loop of hard, black plastic that I just know I'll be able to use along some garden bed. I just know I will.

So with our dog leading the way and a mercifully dark, new-moon-lit sky concealing our movement from one pile to another down the block, we went out for a walk around the neighborhood. Scrounging.

These walks aren't only for dogs, you know.

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 Monday, January 10, 2005


After we had snarfed our tamales and rice, we sat for a while, two in the living room, one in the study. And the dog walked to and fro between us wagging his tail, staring with his eyes, jumping into miscellaneous laps.

Shall we go spatzieren? I asked.

The dog has dachshund in him. He knew what I was asking. His eyes widened and his ears when back. His walking changed to running back and forth between us, wondering why we weren't making a move for the leash.

I got my sweater. Trudy put the leash on the dog. We called the boy, asking no questions, just making a statement.

Come on, Ben. Time for a walk.

The boy protested, putting forth the weak argument that the doctor had warned against strenuous exercise while his jaw adapted to its missing wisdom teeth. The the argument was lame, and even the dog knew it. He didn't persist for long and was soon hopping out the front door putting his shoes on his bare feet.

And with our dog leading the way and a dark, new-moon-lit sky overhead, we went out for a walk around the neighborhood.

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 Sunday, January 9, 2005

Constitutionality of Teaching Intelligent Design

From the abstract of a paper entitled Is it Science Yet?: Intelligent Design Creationism and the Constitution, an argument why teaching ID in science classes is on thin constitutional ice (bullets added for clarity):

[Is It Science Yet?]: The article discusses several factors that pose problems for intelligent design theory, including
  • the absence of objective scientific support for intelligent design,
  • evidence of strong links between intelligent design and religious doctrine,
  • the use of intelligent design to limit the dissemination of scientific theories that are perceived as contradicting religious teachings, and
  • the fact that the irreducible core of intelligent design theory is what the Court has called the manifestly religious concept of a God or Supreme Being.
Based on these details, the authors conclude that intelligent design theory cannot survive scrutiny under the constitutional framework used by the Court to invalidate earlier creationism mandates.

(Hat tip: Richard Hoppe at The Panda's Thumb.)

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The Year I Got Old

Now don't get me wrong. I was ok with it, but it was a big change. Kind of like I'd rolled over the hump. Kind of like I was not so much preparing for the future anymore as reflecting on the past a lot.

It seemed to be happening gradually. I was getting old slowly. It all seemed quite incremental. It all seemed comfortable. Until last year.

  • Last year, my declining eyesight compelled me to buy many pairs of reading glasses and stash them strategically around the house.
  • Last year, my running came to a halt. I got slow. I ran out of energy. And the comfy chair started beckoning.
  • And last year, I started reading Pickles. It's not like I'm that old, but at least I can READ THE PRINT at the breakfast table without any reading glasses.

Suffice it to say, I am glad last year is done.

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 Saturday, January 8, 2005

A Spot in Kentucky

There's a place in Kentucky at the top of a hill where a burning wood stove heats the house. Its tended embers send curling flames around in swirls, and when the cold wind blows out of the north and the world outside is lined with ice and snow, by the stove is a good place to stand.

Beyond the windows that line the walls of this place are the grass and the woods and the hills and the sky. At the foot of the hill is a great woodshed with split wood for this year and green wood for next.

There is a creek further down in the woods. Its water runs and turns and splashes and falls. In places, it gathers in soggy patches of mire and muddy banks. And there are fallen trees to the side of the paths by the edge of the creek in places here and there not difficult to see. Hickories. Oaks. Great fallen hulks. Victims of tornadic bursts that blew thru not too long ago.

On a crisp day just before the new year, we gathered in this place. The woodsman among us took his chain saw to the smaller of some of those fallen trees (and felled one himself). And the rest of us threw the stove-sized pieces into the back of an old grey Jeep and a new green Toyota and stacked some and threw some into a heap by the woodshed, waiting to be split.

Waiting to be split. Waiting to be stacked under the tin roof of that great woodshed. Waiting for another year before it is their turn to be hauled up the hill and one-by-one thrown into that tended stove that heats that house at the top of a hill at the edge of the woods in a beautiful spot in Kentucky.

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 Wednesday, January 5, 2005


On the day after Christmas, or the day after, or the day after that, Mark made steaks. T-bones. Lots of them. There must have been a dozen. (And I haven't the faintest idea how he got them all done and ready to serve at the same time. He's pretty darned good at that.)

If I spoke once during dinner, I don't remember it. If I even so much as looked up from my juicy T-bone, I don't remember it. How long has it been? A very, very long time. I was focused on finishing that steak.

So he fixed T-bones, and I think he broke me. I've had a craving for meat ever since. Bacon on my breakfast tacos. Ham on my morning egg sandwiches. BBQ for lunch.

My mother once said, I need some extra protein when she was explaining why she was eating so much meat. I rolled my eyes then, but not any more. I'm now sure I need the protein, too.

And Mark and his steaks should take the blame.

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 Tuesday, January 4, 2005

Writing Man & Technology

The Writing Man encounters technology at a grocery store and emerges unscathed.

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She's A Geek

Now I've gone and done it, I think. I've gone and made a geek of her.

That PDA she got for Christmas made her twitch in the passenger seat next to me as we drove across the ice-covered midsection of Arkansas. She was unable to conceal the thrill of an electronic to-do list.

And the laptop, oh the laptop. Two days later, she emerges from a marathon Quicken session. Our finances firmly in order. 2004 neatly tied up and archived.

So why is she wanting me to take a shower just now? Why does she want this computer, for heavens sake? Is a new Palm not enough? Is an iBook not enough? Must she sit in this seat, too!?

Oh. Her mail is still here.


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Open Source Journalism

This article in PressThink reviews a a report recently submitted to the Greensboro, NC News-Report on changing the way they do journalism.

Internet. Blogs. Community. Openness. Refreshing. Cause for hope in a world that increasingly seems to offer none. This is a story worth following.

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 Monday, January 3, 2005

My Turn

There are tire tracks in the in the median -- a sign of the arctic weather a few days ago. The ruts in the grass are deep and muddy on the far sides of the bridges, suggesting what the crossings must have looked like as the snow fell and the ice froze.

But today it is in the seventies. The sun is hot coming thru the windows as we drive home, and we have the vent blowing on our faces to keep us cool. The muddy ruts and broken pine boughs along the edge of the highway seem out of place -- how could it have been that bad if it's so nice now?

Trailer trucks. Cement trucks. Vans with tied-down loads on top. Pickup trucks pulling trailer-loads. Cars racing east. Cars racing west. A Texas flag flaps in the breeze outside a rest area by the side of the road.

In the eastbound lanes, an olive green LTD just drove by. Slotted louvers covering the headlights. A flawless paint job masking its age from bumper to shiny bumper. And a German shepherd sitting in the back seat, mouth open, tongue hanging out, watching the world go by.

Time to get back on the road. It's my turn to drive.

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 Sunday, January 2, 2005

Getting My Stuff Done

Is this video about

  • getting stuff done, or
  • putting it off?

(Hat tip: Zawodny's Linkblog.)

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So Right

They ripped the bumper sticker from our car last night.

Sometime in the dark of night someone must have looked at our car in the front of the motel where we slept. And they must have frowned. They must have disliked the message it sent, decided to take a stand, to proclaim a new message in its place.

This morning, where my message used to be, written in white words on black, only theirs remained. And on the ground behind the back of the car were the rolled up shreds of what they had made of mine.

Where my bumper used to read, Left has never been so right followed by a no-W sticker, it now only read, so right. Yet the no-W sticker remained.

so right. No-W.

I wonder if they got their message right.

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 Saturday, January 1, 2005

Just Some Guy

Here's this guy who sits in glorious comfort. Sits on a cushy chair at a spacious desk in a well-lit room before a glowing computer screen. Some guy who composes words at his keyboard, some dreary, some not, mostly unread.

Just some guy who types out words while babies starve, while war ravages, while tens upon tens of thousands crawl out from the wreckage of their shattered lives.

While he types, they starve. While he types, the sparks of war erupt and its flames grow hot. While he types, the tens of thousands just need clean water and food to eat. While this guy types in the comfort of his world, the rest of the world is drowning in misery.

Doctors Without Borders

Oxfam International

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Schlafly Smackdown

While reading this phenomenal article on the evolution of vertebrate immune systems and whales (in Carl Zimmer's The Loom), I also read this four-sentence slam by Zimmer of a recent anti-evolution rant by Phyllis Schlafly.

Zimmer leaves no room for misinterpreting his view on her comments:

She has written the most staggering display of buffoonery on the subject that I've read in a long time.
Zimmer then points to an article by Steve Reuland in The Panda's Thumb that mercilously deconstructs Schlafly's argument, sentence by painful sentence. For example,
I think we're seeing a pattern here.  Phyllis Schlafly hasn't the foggiest notion what biologists actually think; she's missed out on every meaningful discovery, every advancement in theory, and every important find for more than a century.  She's nearly 150 years behind on her whale evolution, and even further behind than that on her giraffe evolution.  She is clearly speaking of things she knows nothing about.

But that's her whole point, isn't it? She isn't talking to and she doesn't care about biologists. The folks in her audience don't read Zimmer's Loom and couldn't care less about Reuland's deconstruction.

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Tsunami Eyewitness

From the BBC:

what is more important is not how you manage to survive a 30-second burst of a wave, it's how you manage to survive what comes afterwards, when you see men looking for their wives, when you see mothers looking for their children and screaming their names, when you see people that you have danced the night before away with, not accounted for.


Now, I'm drinking a lot. I do not think it helps because right now, I've got a bottle, and it's not helping me - I'm as lucid as ever, I've been lucid since then, and it really doesn't help. What do you do? What do you do?

Good riddance, 2004.

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