Deliberate mendacity

Andrew C. Revkin of The New York Times wrote last weekend about political pressure and threats directed against NASA scientists by political appointees. "NASA Chief Backs Agency Openness," Revkin reported, noting that NASA administrator Michael D. Griffin had been forced to take sides, writing in an e-mail to everyone in the agency, "It is not the job of public-affairs officers to alter, filter or adjust engineering or scientific material produced by NASA's technical … [Read more...]

Loose Ends

I've always liked this quote from slain missionary Jim Elliott: "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." First read that in the Spire Comics version of Through Gates of Splendor. (And I really thought I remembered a Billy Graham film of this story, but apparently not.) That story was retold in the documentary Beyond the Gates of Splendor and is being retold again in the new feature film End of the Spear. You may have heard about this movie … [Read more...]


Teresa Nielsen Hayden links to this advice on "Being able to write" from K.G. Schneider, the Free Range Librarian. It's all good advice, but I want to quibble with one point. Schneider notes that sticking to a schedule keeps her focused and "less likely to waste eight hours piddling in pencil-sharpening mode." Since when was "pencil-sharpening mode" a bad thing? If it weren't for pencil-sharpening mode, I'd never get anything else done. Deadline- and … [Read more...]

Iconoclastic controversy

Shakespeare's Sister asks for, and gets, an interesting discussion on "the whole Danish-cartoon-that-insults-Mohammed thing." A quick review of the abstract principles involved. Freedom of Speech: Good. Bigotry/Deliberate Disrespect: Bad. Wanton Rioting/Violence: Bad. The first doesn't excuse the second, and the second doesn't excuse the third. But we're not talking about an abstract, hypothetical situation here, we're talking about a particular series of … [Read more...]

I have held the hand of the devil

In comments below, Jeffrey Overstreet LN provided an excerpt (via Jeffrey Overstreet) from the text of Bono's "homily" at the National Prayer Breakfast yesterday. It's too good to leave hidden in comments. DATA, Bono's advocacy nonprofit, has the full text of his remarks here. Bush got his photo op, but it was a bit like King David posing for photos with Nathan. Speaking truth to power is the task of the prophet, and also, perhaps, of the rock star, and that's a … [Read more...]

In God’s Country

Irish philanthropist and singer Bono (right) pauses for a photograph with a fan at the 54th Annual National Prayer Breakfast. "This is really, really fucking brilliant," the U2 frontman said. In his introduction, President Bush said: In millions of acts of kindness, we have seen the good heart of America. Bono, the true strength of this country is not in our military might or in the size of our wallet, it is in the hearts and souls of the American people. ... I'm kind of … [Read more...]

Longtime leader in city school reform

G. Alfred Hess Jr. died Friday of pancreatic cancer, one day after his 68th birthday. The obituaries in both The Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune note that he was a scholar, activist, Methodist minister, educator and champion of Chicago's public schools. Here is the Sun-Times: Mr. Hess was a respected researcher and author, a school budget watchdog, an anthropologist and an ordained Methodist minister who marched for social justice with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. And here is the … [Read more...]

Taking up the slack

Sleeping in the dark My hours have switched again, this time in a more human direction. Two huge benefits to getting off work at 4 (a.m.) instead of 8: 1) no longer driving home during the morning rush hour; 2) getting to sleep while it's still dark. I can't tell you how giddily happy this last point makes me. With what I'll be saving on Red Bull, this almost counts as a raise. Nocturnal living is still a bit unnatural, but not to worry -- I plan to cut my sleep deficit in half … [Read more...]