Sunday, August 28, 2005

Have you noticed that the death rate in Greensboro has declined? People are still shuffling off this mortal coil, but judging by the N&R obits the survivors don't want to talk about it. "Passed away" has long been a popular euphemism, and I've noticed that "passed" is increasingly deployed by people who don't want to say "died" (but don't mind making the deceased sound like kidney stones)... but lately it seems that the number of obits saying "gone to be with his Heavenly Father" or "called home" and the like is on a sharp upswing.

I know we live in an era of public displays of faith, but if you didn't have to die to get to heaven then the line outside the gates would be a lot longer.

I prefer the flinty outlook of my friend Norton's New England Congregationalist ancestors, who carved this uplifting sentiment on a family tombstone a couple of hundred years back (yes, I know I've cited it before):

We only know that thou hast gone
And that the same returnless tide
That bore thee from us still flows on
And we who mourn thee with it glide.

What happens after that is a matter of some dispute. But die we do.

2:51:11 PM   permalink   comment []

Troublemaker nails something important in his recap of the T&R hearings -- the laughable logic that two shots fired in the air from the head of the Klan karavan could be construed as "non-hostile" fire. Troublemaker quotes GPD officer Mike Toomes on the subject, and Lewis Pitts made the same point with biting humor in his presentation yesterday. It's hard to imagine that anyone caught up in a melee would know to interpret those shots in the air as "non-hostile."

Pitts also disputed the FBI's accoustic analysis of the gunfire, and I don't know how reliable it truly was...but when I asked Nelson Johnson if both side were armed with shotguns, he did not argue the point.

2:34:53 PM   permalink   comment []

Allen Johnson thinks the ACC should pony up some dough for the proposed Hall of Champions in GSO. Maybe so, although I'm not sure of the league's financial structure. Perhaps the ACC schools themselves, flush with TV cash, should kick in some money. What's for damn sure -- the make or break in this deal -- is that the ACC's corporate sponsors should be backing this thing.

I wrote this before plans for the project were even announced: "Jefferson-Pilot, a local company with significant broadcasting and advertising ties to the league ... can provide funds for the project and influence with the ACC. This is JP's chance to ... provid(e) critical corporate leadership for its hometown -- while leveraging its own well-established marketing strategy."

And two years later, with plans on the board: "JP has been sponsoring the ACC for decades -- those of us of a certain age can pause here to sing the 'Sail with the Pilot' jingle from the old commercials -- and its television unit is a major channel for the league's lucrative sports programming. It's a natural fit. If JP isn't interested, this project may be in trouble before it really starts. I would also include North Carolina's big banks and the various fast-food and beverage companies that stop play after every four minutes of basketball to peddle their wares. And I might add Nike, since it is willing to pay millions to plaster that swoosh on anything related to sports."

1:53:17 PM   permalink   comment []

Sally Greene celebrates the 85th anniversay of the 19th Amendment.

1:37:36 PM   permalink   comment []

Didn't The New Yorker used to be famous for its fact-checking?

I went back to my copy of Michele Cone's book, Artists under Vichy, and I have to say that The New Yorker's Peter Schjeldahl seems mighty flippant in his characterization of Michele's argument about Matisse's war-time views, and that Matisse biographer Hilary Spurling could use a new dictionary that better defines the word "allegation."

Read the rest of Aunt Michele v The New Yorker here...

11:56:32 AM   permalink   comment []

Daniel Dennett in the NYT: "Is 'intelligent design' a legitimate school of scientific thought? Is there something to it, or have these people been taken in by one of the most ingenious hoaxes in the history of science? Wouldn't such a hoax be impossible? No. Here's how it has been done..."

11:13:03 AM   permalink   comment []

As noted a few weeks ago, my grandfather's family loved to gamble...Today the N&R's Jack Scism includes in his compulsively readable (and sadly unposted) "Remember When" column this clip from the Greensboro Patriot of August 28-Sept. 3, 1905: "Four prominent Greensboro businessmen -- Julius and S.N. Cone, S.J. Kaufman and W.S. Diffee -- posted bonds of $100 each for their appearance in Superior Court to answer to a charge of gambling."

That's the same Uncle Julius from whom my granddad won the silver candlesticks I mentioned...and S.N. Cone was the Solomon cited in the post, the biggest gambler of them all -- within a few years of that Patriot article, Sol lost a corner on the cotton market, shot himself in the head (the friendly local press reported, "Mr. Cone injured in gun-cleaning accident") and lived in good health for another couple of decades with a bullet in the back of his skull.

Things sure are dull around this family these days.

10:59:21 AM   permalink   comment []

On the NYT op-ed pages, the David Brooks laments the way we are misfighting the war in Iraq: "There is no clear strategy. There are no clear metrics."

He points to this article in Foreign Affairs by Andrew F. Krepinevich, Jr., a retired US Army lieutenant colonel and author of an important book on Vietnam. Krepinevich begins: "Despite the Bush administration's repeated declarations of its commitment to success in Iraq, the results of current policy there are not encouraging. After two years, Washington has made little progress in defeating the insurgency or providing security for Iraqis, even as it has overextended the U.S. Army and eroded support for the war among the American public. Although withdrawing now would be a mistake, simply 'staying the course,' by all current indications, will not improve matters either. Winning in Iraq will require a new approach."

Back to Brooks: "If President Bush is going to rebuild support for the war, he's going to have to explain specifically how it can be won, and for that he needs a strategy.

"It's not hard to find. It's right there in Andy Krepinevich's essay, and in the annals of history."

Meanwhile, on the opposite page, Frank Rich makes a point I tried to make last week: "It's Casey Sheehan's mother, not those haggling in Baghdad's Green Zone, who really changed the landscape in the war this month. Not because of her bumper-sticker politics or the slick left-wing political operatives who have turned her into a circus, but because the original, stubborn fact of her grief brought back the dead the administration had tried for so long to lock out of sight."

Rich is tough on the Democrats, too: "When the war's die-hard cheerleaders attacked the Middle East policy of a mother from Vacaville, Calif., instead of defending the president's policy in Iraq, it was definitive proof that there is little cogent defense left to be made. When the Democrats offered no alternative to either Mr. Bush's policy or Ms. Sheehan's plea for an immediate withdrawal, it was proof that they have no standing in the debate...

"...The Democrats are hoping that if they do nothing, they might inherit the earth as the Bush administration goes down the tubes. Whatever the dubious merits of this Kerryesque course as a political strategy, as a moral strategy it's unpatriotic."

10:45:46 AM   permalink   comment []