Cossacks and Prairie Muffins

If you believe that every human being has the right to self determination, then how do you cope with people who claim not to want that right? The BBC’s Steven Eke had a fascinating report last week on Russia’s Cossacks. The radio broadcast version of this story, ended with the man pictured at that link, [Read More...]

The sin of despair

I suppose I should start with what it is not. The Catholic Encyclopedia entry on despair is exuberantly Pelagian: Despair … is the voluntary and complete abandonment of all hope of saving one’s soul and of having the means required for that end. Whoever wrote that was less interested in defining “despair” than he was [Read More...]

Inspection notices

The collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis seems to have prompted a wave of bridge inspections. The paper reports today that: Four of Delaware’s most vulnerable bridges will be inspected every six months instead of every year as a precaution in the wake of last week’s bridge collapse in Minneapolis. Sixteen other Delaware bridges [Read More...]

Pessimistic hope

Bill McKibben has been warning us about climate change for nearly as long as Al Gore has. He addresses the subject with a kind of hopeful pessimism. McKibben is a Methodist — the sort of Methodist who would’ve made John Wesley proud. As such, he regards despair as a sin and hope as a duty. [Read More...]

No margin for error

Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., was interviewed on NPR’s Morning Edition on Wednesday. The interview was unusual for Biden in that he actually seemed physically present rather than floating in the ethereal realm of meta-politics he usually makes his home. On the campaign trail or during his many appearances on cable and Sunday morning news shows, [Read More...]


Here’s the Star Tribune coverage of the collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis, where at least four people were killed, 79 were injured, and 20 remain missing. Dr. John Hick, who was one of the first responders to the bridge collapse, said “It’s somewhat of a miracle that (the number of injuries and fatalities) [Read More...]

Backyard bombardier

* Brush with infamy: Turns out disgraced former NBA referee Tim Donaghy went to high school with my girlfriend. Her yearbook shows that Donaghy was voted Most Likely to Compromise the Integrity of a Major Sports League. * Civil discourse, illustrated: Seattle Mariners GM Bill Bavasi was asked to comment on criticism from Florida Marlins’ [Read More...]

Pennhurst & subsidiarity

I had a short-term job some years ago working at a home for dual-diagnosis adults. The best thing about that job was each night, on my way home, heading out of the driveway past some of the men’s group homes where, in all but the harshest weather, the guys would all be gathered on the [Read More...]