The (over-)extended metaphor in the previous post may obscure the links to two worthy articles that I wanted to highlight. Those would be: "Rumsfeld and his 'old friend' Saddam," by Jim Lobe in the Asia Times; and "Winning and Losing," by Philip Gourevitch in The New Yorker. Read more

I know an old lady who swallowed a cow I don't know how she swallowed that cow … I'm fascinated by stories of exotic invasives — those surprisingly adaptable foreign species like kudzu or the cane toad whose proliferation in a new ecosystem can have devastating consequences. … She swallowed the cow to catch the dog … A few years back I had dinner with a fellow who worked as a biologist for the state of Florida. He was working… Read more

Left Behind, pp. 29-30 The toughest chore for emergency personnel was to determine who had disappeared, who was killed and who was injured, and then to communicate that to the survivors. LaHaye and Jenkins don’t tell us what these conversations are like. It is supposed to be comforting for the survivors to learn that their loved ones have simply vanished rather than being killed in an accident? What comfort does this provide? “So you’re saying my wife and daughter weren’t… Read more

The word "alleged" is used far more frequently in newspapers that it is in most aspects of daily life. This is due partly to a commitment to the principle of "innocent until proven guilty." If, for example, a man is arrested after going to a local mall with a video camera attached to his shoe (scroll down to Dec. 19) in an apparent attempt to look up women's dresses, the newspaper will refer to him as an "alleged peeper," or… Read more

Since switching over to typepad, I've been delighted by the quality of the comments and commenters here. (If you're not reading the comments, you're missing out on most of the best lines.) Except, that is, for one guy named "Viagra." His comments don't have anything to do with the post in question — he just wants to talk about erectile dysfunction. It's kind of rude when everybody else is talking about, say, Nathanael West's heartbreaking novel "Miss Lonelyhearts" and some… Read more

Left Behind, pp. 28-30 From the pilot of a passing Concorde, Rayford Steele has learned that the mysterious disappearances on his plane are but a small piece of a global phenomenon. Finally Rayford picks up “an all-news radio outlet” that confirms the Concorde’s account. One pictures Steele frantically scanning the dial looking for news — country music, hip-hop, oldies, adult contemporary — trying to find an “all-news” station in order to learn more about a global phenomenon bringing catastrophe, shock… Read more

Aside from conservatives, liberals and analysts, everyone seems impressed with the Bush administration's new plans for balancing the budget restoring fiscal responsibility slightly ameliorating the tide of red ink: President Bush's goal of cutting in half a projected $500 billion federal deficit within five years is being dismissed as too timid by conservatives, unachievable by analysts and laughable by Democrats. What's particularly, if predictably, disturbing is to read the strategy intended to reduce this deficit: White House officials say to… Read more

I've often thought that the worst jobs in publishing — worse even than proofreading the listings for TV Guide — would be to be a staff writer for one of those bridal magazines. Such magazines do not have subscribers. They do not have a readership that seeks an ongoing, developing conversation. Every issue they print essentially the same articles, features, columns and photographs, with only the slightest variation. They never get past square one. One of the reasons I left… Read more

Revising and extending my remarks from an earlier comment — Graham Green was a cynical old bastard, but he was not only a cynic. In order for him to describe cynicism so well, he must have had a place to stand outside of it from which to make his deft observations. My favorite Green novel, I've said, is Monsignor Quixote, and I love the vision of grace and broken discipleship in The Power and the Glory. But Greene's most important… Read more

(The following is from an article for an upcoming issue of PRISM magazine. Frankly, the lead-time for that bimonthly is so long I've lost track of when this will be published — it could be July/August 2005.) A summer camp counselor once told me, "If you can't tie a good knot, tie a lot of them." Congress seems to be following this advice in recent months as they have considered a series of massive, messy omnibus bills. These proposals, often… Read more

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