Aug 31, 2002

In Ann Arbor
Riding North
We rode north through the green hills and trees beneath the blue sky on a Saturday afternoon a few days after school began again. We rode in a red convertible with the top down, four college students looking to escape the little town and seize some culture for the weekend, rocking to Stairway to Heaven with the wind beating our faces.

The primary colors are brilliant, almost searingly beautiful and memorable.

The Meaning of Cubism for a Little Girl
"Mom," said the little girl. "Is that a Picasso?"
"Yes," her mother said, looking at the black skull.
"Mom, what is a Picasso?"

Seizing Culture
A bookstore, an art museum with Picasso and Ansel Adams exhibits and a coffee shop with books--thus the cultured life of academia.

I'm packing the basic writings of Heidegger, but no one seems to notice.

We sit in the coffee shop and read for Monday's classes, mentioning Heidegger, Picasso, Blake, Miles Davis, Beethoven.

Blake spoke of the fall with the imagery of grapes bleeding.

Heidegger had classes at 7 a.m. and caused a stir among students throughout Germany with the power of his lectures. One of his students described it as "the full concentration of all the powers--the powers of genius--in a revolutionary thinker who actually seemed himself to be startled by the intensity of the questions growing more and more radical in him."

The Singular of the Word
He didn't know what was incorrect with the phrase "another criteria has." I pointed out that "criteria" was plural though generally, like "media," used for the singular as well. He didn't know that so we looked up "criterion." The dictionary makes the note that some plural words are now used without hesitation, giving the example of agenda. So the singular is agendum, which we didn't know and are now looking for opportunities to use.

The Feeling of the Rocks
The buildings around the University of Michigan campus are beautiful, with lots of brick and rock and climbing ivy. It feels like solid academia. It feels like Oxford should feel like. It feels scholarly to walk on green lawns between rock walls covered in ivy.

I love the feel of this glorious world of academia.
The smell of grass and the sound of the lawnmower brings back my childhood.

Aug 29, 2002

Talking Amillenialism
Gideon Strauss is talking about Amillenialism. Personally I'm a confirmed Postmillenial fellow. If one were to believe that Amillenialism has no chest hair and plays with dolls (as Doug Wilson, who said the Amillenial position comes from the quarterly taking grape juice for communion), Strauss goes a long way to convince you otherwise.

If the Amillenial fellows, rather than absolving themselves of the responsibility to engage the culture, were an active bunch (as Strauss and, he suggests, others like him are) they would certainly be welcomed by this Postmillenialist.

And a an a- is certainly always prefered to a pre-.

[If you're mystified and turned off by eschatology at least read the post for the mention of the use of the terms Liberal and Conservative.]
The Job of the Reporter:
An Introductory Talk on Reporting for the Collegian Reporters

The reporter has two jobs. The first is curiosity and the second is storytelling. It is a job that can will take you anywhere and put you in the middle of anything, often with little preparation.

This is mostly a job about stories. I’d like to tell you in the next few minutes about the work I’ve done and convince to give the job a try. I hope you’ll be interested in working as a reporter for me in the next year covering this college.

In my two full years as a reporter I’ve written stories about a self-described “habitual thief,” a Native American tribe blessing of a hand carved canoe, the selection of one college president and the adjustments of our college president—Arnn—to his job. I’ve covered the shooting death of a 16-year-old and later his funeral. I reported on a 14-year-old girl—an aspiring actress—getting her first major part in a film. I did a story about a man who had his back yard washed away in a flood. I’ve covered the arrest of a bank robber.

The reason a descent reporter can cover such a variety of stories and do a good job is curiosity. You need to be able to come into something you know nothing about and get really interested in it.

I wanted to mention some cases I’ve had with as an example of this. I am a very curios person, I love to know what’s happening and get more information, and what happens is you’re sent to cover something you know nothing about and you let your curiosity kick in and take you into the story.

I was sent to cover a salmon hatchery experiment for a daily paper in Washington State. I know little about salmon, I think I’d done something in grade school about how they return to the place they hatched to lay their eggs but that was about it, and within three or four hours I was a salmon hatcheries expert. I’d called all over the state talking to officials and I read some reports on hatchery work and I spent an afternoon at a hatchery and now I was writing about the life cycles of salmon and the color of natural salmon compared with the color of hatchery salmon and prey and feeding habits and this whole world I never thought about before my editor handed me this piece of paper talking about this hatchery experiment.

It’s a curiosity that can just kick into gear and a fascination with things you just heard about and a love of good story.

The driving force behind a reporter is a good story. The only thing that matters, one excellent reporter said, is the story, the one for tomorrow’s paper.

And what is a story? How do you know if it’s a story? There are criteria and five categories you will probably have on a test of Joy’s if you’re in her class but basically a story is what people are talking about.

I had three people tell me about how the Classics department is so full that Dr. Jones is teaching seven classes—that’s obviously interesting. That’s a story. In the last few days I’ve heard a lot of people talking about Sir Martin Gilbert so that’s a story. Yesterday afternoon I heard that Gilbert’s Churchill library is coming to Hillsdale College and that it might be permanent. This is a great story because people would talk about it but the haven’t heard yet so we get to tell them.

The concept of a story being what people talk about should be used as a general concept but also used for the details of the story. When I reported on the arrest of a bank robbery I walked into this bar—it was about 11 a.m. seven days after the robbery took place and he’d been drinking and gambling the whole time. So I walk into this bar and the guy’s beer is sitting on the counter. So I ask how much the beer costs because I realize that everyone is going to be calculating how many he could have bought and I think the arrested fellow is probably just as mad about not drinking his beer as he is about getting caught. I know he’s saying “Damn! I got caught and Damn! I didn’t get to drink my beer.” And I know all the guys reading the story are going “So how many beers could you buy with the money from a bank robbery?”

If you’re going to be a reporter cultivate your curiosity and your love of a good story. Most of the technical stuff is simple and simply serves your curiosity and story telling.

I want to hit a few technical notes here before I close. I’d suggest you pick up and read something on news reporting in the next week. We have a few books in the Collegian office that are excellent and can give you a lot of good tips. You’re going to run into problems with you’re interviews but it you pick the brains of other experienced reporters, do a bit of reading and feel your instincts you can surmount those blockades easily enough.

You need to have an idea what the story is about and to know some basic information about the topic. But you’re not going to know everything and you need to be flexible and follow the conversation and get your information. Those are the two things you have to do in an interview: don’t miss what you’re being told and get the needed information. You may be going after the wrong dead cat and need some redirection or maybe someone’s trying to tell you the dead cat doesn’t stink.

For that reason I don’t write out my questions. You should be able to remember your questions and to be pretty flexible. I have an idea of what I need to know and then it’s not a question answer session it’s a conversation where the source does all the talking and I ask enough questions to keep him going and to get my information.

When it comes to asking questions this is where your curiosity really gets free reign. When it’s for the story, you can ask anybody anything. They don’t have to talk to you but you’d be surprised, most times they will talk or can be convinced to talk. We say in the business “there are no stupid questions, only stupid answers and it’s our job to be there to take them down.”

When you’re in the interview take a lot of notes. You’ll want to learn a sort of shorthand—at least your personal made up short hand—and listen for good usable quotes. That’s the only way you can handle a full conversation. Most of the information you’re going to paraphrase. As an example: I had an interview with Pewe yesterday and we talked about how they are trying to raise money for a new classroom. All that I can paraphrase. But then I have a direct quote of him saying: “When we get this building we will be recognized as one of the best places to teach liberal arts because we have the facilities.”

The best thing I can suggest—in addition to reading a bit about reporting and talking to folks with some experience—is to read newspapers. Newspaper writing is a craft and the more familiar with the craft you are the better. An editor can tell if you are a regular newspaper reader. I’d recommend staying away from the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal for a while because they are really big and play by their own rules. Read good metro papers, any major metropolitan paper. You can read them online easily. Being from the West Coast I read the Seattle Times and the San Francisco papers and the L.A. Times. Just look up the local metro paper and read it every few days—it’ll make a notable difference in your work.

If you can push your curiosity and ask questions and learn to love the story then you’ll do a great job as a reporter and we’ll have a great year.
The Exageration of the Antichrist
Gregg Easterbrook has a piece on why the figure of the antichrist is really exaggerated and shouldn’t be worried about.

Christians should be worried about the spirit of antichrist among us and the spirit of antichrist in us.

One cannot pass this point without noting the numbers of the Beast

[Both links via

Aug 28, 2002

Moving Back
Am I more intimidated? Less? Is impressing the professor less important than it used to be? Is it a sign of moderation growing with age?

I don’t know but I’m sitting in the second row this semester.

Aug 27, 2002

Nothing like a Little Rivalry
Proving the Reformation is eternally fought at Hillsdale College, a sign where students sign up for information about the Catholic Student Union reads:

We haven't had this this much fun since TRENT!
Campus Observations
From my bed at 1:45 a.m. where I read the intorduction to the philosophy text, I can feel the softening breeze after a warm day and hear the slap of sandles on the street as another student walks home from the first party of the year.
This Semester’s Classes:
CLS 101 -- Elementary Latin
ART 204 -- Art History from Renaissance to Modern
REL 340 -- New Testament Ethics
PHL 493 -- Heidegger Seminar
PHL 340 -- 20th Century Continental Philosophy

(Sixteen credits, nine towards my philosophy major.)

Aug 26, 2002

A Long Line
I bet that if you go to hell you have to stand in line to register.

Aug 25, 2002

No Pushing, No Shoving
Bush hasn’t issued a single veto, according to The New Republic.

This is dreadfully disappointing. Why can’t he fight a little?

Couldn’t he veto something?

MORE OPTIMISTIC UPDATE: For encouragement in politics, always look at the other guys and remember the winners are the ones who make fewer mistakes. Still from The New Republic, we see the lovely Greens are taking on the liberals and, Thank you!, hurting their chances of beating the GOP in one Minnesota race with potentially terrific ramifications.
Lots of Muck, Few Pearls in Broadway’s Chicago
A story of murder, lust, greed, corruption, violence, adultery and treachery, Chicago was mostly lame. Telling us little about the human condition, the play gave a viewer scant return to make the dredging about in human muck worthwhile.

I didn’t know much about the play before I went—a friend arranged the tickets and I just said “Chicago, Jazz Age, court trial, Broadway, yeah let’s go”—and maybe that was part of my initial disappointment. I was expecting, well, something else. Rather than being on the way to the point, the debauchery was most of the point.

There were two brilliant exceptions to this, exceptions that made the show worth my half-price ticket.

We are given a good look into the character of Amos, the faithful, dopey, straight, longsuffering and highly boring husband of the adulterous star, Roxie. Amos is a kind man, considered a buffoon by the wild children of Jazz, caring and loving and common. He is completely ignored and pushed over by the world around him and, in the show’s best number, he thinks he is so unnoticed he should have been named Mr. Cellophane.

With great acting and a great number we actually get to see something of the humanity of this man, a man overlooked by his fast and rebellious age, a man terribly old fashioned and ridiculous. Taunted, ridiculed or ignored, Amos could and probably should have been the hero of the show, depicting a man at odds with the shifting world around him

The second bit of work that made the play worthwhile was at the climax of the show when one actor played the entire jury, shifting from seat to seat playing out the foibles of the American public. The actor was a nun praying, a middle-aged woman sympathizing, an old man sleeping and a workingman who doesn’t really care. It was a glorious bit of work hidden in a little sideshow of the three-ring circus of the trial.

But besides those two bits of brilliant work the show was too much “razzle-dazzle”, too much leg, an eminently forgettable score and not much insight into the human soul.
Two links for St. Bartholomew’s day:
A picture of his death and a piece on the massacre of the French Huguenots, which also took place today.
The current definition of a prolific blogger: Not on vacation.

Aug 24, 2002

Culture before Politics
The Native Tourist makes the eminently needed point that culture does not equal politics. Thus Christians must start engaging the culture. As important as the political realm is, it springs from the broader sphere of culture: education, art, media.

Seize the culture, the politics will follow.
What they Said
(an unrelated assortment of quotes I've been thinking about)

Kipling on Disillusion and Youth
We have done with Hope and Honour, we are lost to Love and Truth
We are dropping down the ladder--rung by rung
And the measure of our torment is the measure of our youth
God help us, for we know the worst to young!

Guthrie on Copyrighted Music:
"This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright # 154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don't give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that's all we wanted to do."
[Quoted by Eric Costello]

Hemmingway on Writing Better than Those Before You:
H: There is no use writing nything that has been written before unless you can beat it. What a writer in our time has to do is write what hasn't been written before or eat dead men at they have done. The only way he can tell how he is going is to cmpete with dead men...
Interviewer: But reading all the good writers might discourage you.
H: Then you ought to be discouraged.
So I'm in my room, almost completly unpacked, and now my internet connection is working.

Life is good and the real blogging will begin soon.

Aug 23, 2002

Real Journalists Get Shot At
Suprisingly, war photographers deal with a lot of stress. If this suprises you then read the CJR piece exploring the topic.

But c'mon. All Journalists are a crazy breed, and those of us who look for the crimes, the gunshots, the exciting real world are more so. Real journalists get shot at and, yeah, they have psychological problems. That's sotra the definition of journalist.
Listening to the blues, working on a paper redesign, putting together a killer masthead and pulling up a list of story ideas, life is certainly good in the Collegian newsroom.

Buy Books from the Legendary Powells
I wouldn't sell out to just anybody. But I'd do it for Powells, the glorious, legendary and incredible book store!

I've made pilgrimages to the store, the greatest bookstore on earth, and I've blogged my love for them. Now if you buy a book from the store through the link on my page you will also support me. I get 10 percent of all purchases made through the link.

Loads better than a measly and miserly tip jar and that terrible begging blogging, I say.

And books are always a good thing so go check it out.

Aug 20, 2002

Everything is slower than I presumed--what’s new about that?

I’m now in Salisbury, Maryland and on the cusp of a 12-hour drive back to school. Then things will once again return to normal speed, we pray. At least I’ll have 24/7 T-1 access.

So then all the promised posts and lengthy articles should come as I return to the scintillating and stimulating world of the college paper and general academia.

Atlas is sleeping, waiting for the first kiss ... I mean the return of school.

Check out Gideon Strauss’ heavy lifting. In a perfect world I’d be over there with him, feeling the weight of those theology book set the synapses firing.

I’m reading Irrational Man, apparently the book that introduced America to Existentialism, and soon I will be an expert or, at least, will blog on the subject.

We all ought to learn the art of the insult. If our cordial and academic exchanges must, occasionally come to insults then surely we can learn from the best of the insulters. Consider this list of Shakespeare's insults:

“What fools these mortals be.”
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, act III

“Would thou wert clean enough to spit upon.”
Timothy of Athens, act IV

“I desire we may be better strangers.”
As You Like It, act III

“Were I like thee I’d throw myself away.”
Timothy of Athens, act III

“Thou clay-brained guts, thou knott-pated fool, thou whoreson, obscene, greasy tallow-catch.”
Henry IV, part I, act II.

“Go thou, and fill another room in hell.”
Richard II, act V.

“You are a candle, the better part burnt out.”
Henry IV, Part 2, act I.

“A pox o’ your throat! you bawling, blasphemous, incharitable dog!”
The Tempset, act I.

“A rascal, an eater of broken meats, a base, proud, shallow, beggardly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy-worsted-stocking knave ... and art nothing but the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pander and the son and heir of a mongrel ... one whom I will beat into clamorous whining if thou deniest the least syllable of thy addition.”
King Lear, act II.
Protein Wisdom has been acting a little strange and then, just all-of-the-sudden-like, he disappears on an alleged vacation.

Do you think "they" got him?

Aug 18, 2002

The Great Pugsley Masacre,
The Devil in Your Armchair,
A review of Pachino's "Looking for Richard,"
A review of Broadway's "Chicago."

All this and more coming as a drop of my friends, Jeff and Andrew, and spend another day at FEE until I catch the bus out of Irvington New York mid Monday.

Aug 17, 2002

Blogging for the crowd of one
I've been pushing record numbers here in the blog and, at the current rate of steady increase, may soon reach the number of hits I had from the one link by Instapundit.

This is heartening and inspiring and does lead to steady posting, but I'd write this stuff if no one read it. I write what I would want to read and hope that some others--now over 40 others--will enjoy reading it.

I'll soon be upon six months of blogging and plan to run a few "best of" pieces to celebrate.

Joshua Claybourn and Ben Domenech have apt and fitting words on doing what you want on blogging strategies and doing what you want to do, words that fit my idea of blogging for myself and letting the world come and enjoy my site.
My Glasses were run over by a firetruck in the rain in New York.
This is true. I am currently squinting at the world, eyes dialated, painfully, attempting to bring in enough light that I can see the world.

That said, the story is not as interesting as the statement and I am going to get another pair in the morning.

If anything can be said for blogging, let us say that like writing itself it alleviates the tragedy of life. The irony, the absurdity, the insanity. Oh, to get ones glasses run over by a firetruck in the rain in New York!

UPDATE: Through the services of Lenscrafters' one hour photo, I can see once again. I even have a one year insurence against accidentally breaking this pair including, one thinks, being smashed by a firetruck.

Aug 15, 2002

The Euthyphro Quandry, or
Who Says God is Good?

Seraphim, in his constant work to elucidate all things Greek, explains the quandry of the explaination and definitional standard of God's goodness. As Seraphim says:

"Is an action holy because it is holy, or is it holy because God says it is so? Now, Euthyphro says the latter, but Socrates tears his claim apart by asking a good number of semantical questions, to wit: Do we say that something "is being carried" because it is a "being carried thing," or do we say something "is being carried" because it is, in fact, being carried by someone?"

I think I'd like to come to Euthyphro's defense against good old Soc, but I'm waiting to see Seraphim's work before I venture into these waters.

I have faced the question before. One occasion was when an especially lame Evangelical pastor asked the congregation how we knew God was just. I was bothered by the question because it forced God to come before our court and submit to our standards and understanding of justice. I have some other arguments and, I think, a case that some of Soc's problems of questions of definition but we'll wait to insure the maximum intelligence and optimum arguing capabilities.
The Beloved Creeds of Christianity
Greg Uttinger has published a thrid installement, one I didn't expect, on the Christian creeds, this time on the work proceeding from Chalcedon. He does an excellent job, as I thought he did on the original defense of creeds and the explaination on the Apostles Creed, and I applaud him for the work.

Aug 14, 2002

Begger Threatens Bad Puns
Well the begging blogger thinks we owe him something and threatens to rise from his dirty begging blanket and tin cup with all his Irish ire to call forth damnation and lousy puns on all those who dare to question such pathetic whining.

"[N]aughty people who call me a whiner might be immortalized in bawdy verse full of cheap puns on their names and low, inexcusable rhymes, meters, and vivid, unforgettable imagery that will live on in people's minds long after this blog is dust. Never criticize an Irish writer, especially when he's engaging in shameless commerce," Shea said.

UPDATE: Gideon Strauss begs with humor, after complementing all concerned.
Intellectualism, Charity and Intelligence
Does intellectual charity, granting that your ideological adversaries aren’t necessarily stupid and intentionally seeking evil, rise with education and intelligence?

I’m enjoying the exciting pleasure of joining with other highly intelligent home schooled students and discussing the flaws of the gold standard, the questions and problems with dualism, the flaw of basing systems of thought on natural order and general philosophical subjects such as the work of Descartes, Kant and Postmodernists.

It is amusing and amazing and delightful how home schooled students—now somewhere in their college education—recognize each other, feeling the resonance of a superior education and an insatiable desire for knowledge.

UPDATE: These comments were not intended to apply to Dawn Olsen’s assault on all things home educated, but it fits rather well. (Though I generally see no reason to take Olsen or her arguments seriously except in the fact that she made them and others read them.)

Of course, most of this debate is mere anecdotalism—which reminds me of my previously blogged conversation on the airplane—though I appreciated the comments of Ben Domenech.

Remind me, when I have some time, to post the three reasons why I believe home schooling is the only educational option.
Will Blog for Free
Mark Shea tries to shame his readers into paying him something, anything.

C'mon Mark. You run a free site and there's no reason why I or anyone else should pay you. So please don't rattle the tin cup and beg. Either find a way to make the site pay without trying to use guilt and demand such benevolence like all those lousy public television advertisements, or find a job that pays you for your writing.

But really, stop the whining.

Aug 13, 2002

Knowing Hollywood
Our common cultural knowledge, even among the well college educated, includes almost all movies but very little literature.

I’m not surprised or upset by the fact that it includes movies, but by the fact that it includes any and all movies and only a few books. (Unless the book has been turned into a movie, when the phrase: “You know it from the movie…” is employed.)

No matter how silly or lame or cheap or dumb or obscure the movie one can cite it as an example.

“Remember in that movie X when A does T? It’s like that when…”

When can we demand and assume that normal intelligent people have read a moderate selection of literature?
[NOTE: I apologize for the admitted redundancy of this complaint.]

Aug 12, 2002

At the Foundation for Economic Education:
I'm busily trying to avoid illogical bloviation, inflated rhetoric that, violating such constraints as deductive logic, could prove anything.

It's not all this way, but how much is needed to bring frustration?
Conversation in the Air
I wasn't worried about what she thought of me, arguing for conservatism on an airplane as we approached the airport she refused to call "Reagan National," I was worried that I would become more evidence to confirm all her bitter dislike for the breed.
The Seattle Taliban
The Seattle Times runs a really weird story today about a Seattle Mosque cleaning up the neighborhood and creating an strict Islamic world--Taliban style--on their block.

I admit I kinda like the "no drugs in our neighborhood" attitude and effectivness at fighting their own drug war, but some of therest of this stuff is scary.
$7.42 for a one topping large with a two liter of pop
Coming from a college where everyone has the phone number of the local pizza place, Hungry Howies, memorized and can tell you the best deal and the price of that college special including tax, I found Dean's comments about the sad state of pizza affairs interesting. Can't say I'm familiar with the situation though I wish him the best of luck.
A Blogosphere is not a Church
How can there really be a "Christian Blogging Community"? It doesn't make any sense.

I like Blogs4God--it's nice in giving us a list of others in such a classification (a semi definitive list, which is nice) and an interesting place to look around--butsome of these other little blips coming up that claimto be the next thing for "Christian Bloggers" and will really unite the community and set up real standards.

Well goody-gum drops but this isn't church. Christs mandate for unity was never interpreted as a mandate for a guild.

The whole idea of thisuniversial community is silly. I am in an online community with the people who read my site and the people whos site I read. The affiliation is purely one of readership and an invention of another association is unrealistic.

Even granting the impossibility of creating some sort of community where it does not exists, I have no reason to submit to anyones imposition of allegedly Christian standards. Even more than that, I'm not interested in using such a grid to decide if I will read someone's blog. How do I know if a blog is good? I read it.

No standardized test--even if I agreed with it, which is unlikely--is going to tell me if the writing is interesting.

Perhaps the whole idea is a joke nobody has gotten yet.
Laughing in the Gulag
Sometimes black humor is very, very needed.
Goldstein against blind Dwarfs with Super Soakers
Goldstein tells us that a "scholar" blaming female suicide bombers on world wide patriarchy should be treated as "a blind dwarf in clown makeup who tries mugging you with nothing more than an unloaded Super Soaker and some harsh words."

Which seems pretty rough on the dwarfs.

Aug 11, 2002

The Neo-Factor
Gideon Strauss defines his self-definition of neocalvinism in a piece that's long on Presuppositionalism and the subsequent necessity--after we eliminate epistomological neutrality--for God's dominion to extend over every area, but really very short thosefive messy points.

Look at all the neat things you can do with a little neo!
"Outside of our moms, who reads bylines?" Page asked. "And the Chicago Tribune has a slogan: 'If your mother says she loves you, check it out.' "

My letter on one of the talks at the National Press Club, published over at Poynter.

Aug 10, 2002

Blogging from the National Press club
I had a great day of journalism seminars today, hearing six speakers talking about this wonderful and crazy career. More will be coming as I get somewhere I can post my notes and observations from this center of world journalism.

Meanwhile check out, where a letter I wrote (in exchange for a free book) is due to be posted along with a picture soon.

Aug 8, 2002

Into the Wild Blue
My summer has ended. After 90 days at home from college, living with my five brothers and one sister, working at the daily newspaper, living within a few minutes of my good friend Jeff Nelson, within four hours of the greatest bookstore on earth, it is over and I am once again moving east.

I’m on a whirlwind tour of U.S. cities, hitting Portland yesterday (see the comment about the greatest bookstore on earth), D.C. tomorrow for a journalism conference and New York City on Saturday for a free-market economics conference. I should also briefly whirl through Baltimore, my own Seattle and Chicago.

I’m expecting to blog through all this, catching internet connections pretty much daily and having all sorts of thoughts and experiences to blog.

And so I go, riding into the wild blue yonder.
Packing the Bags
It felt good to pack.

I pack lightly. Three bags total. Light enough I can carry them easily.

It is an act that brings order and forces evaluation and thrift, reaffirming the hard, lean and sparse existence befitting a reporter.

It is an act signifying an end and a beginning and excitement. And so I leave.
Consuming Oranges
Approxomate number of oranges eaten this summer at home: 270.
Observing the Faces and the Character of Devout Catholic Youth
David Warren observes the faces of the Catholic youth attending World Youth Day 2002, finding them happy, good and respectful of each other, their elders and the Catholic faith.

Having interviewed two of the local young Catholic faithful attending the conference from Port Angeles Wash., Amanda Haas, 17, and Matt Dubeau, 21, of Queen of Angles, I would agree. I disagreed with much of their theology and much of their devotion, but seeing devout young Christians is always heartwarming.

I was glad I was the one to interview them and write the story because I could understand their faith, I wasn’t making fun of Pedophilia scandals and the feebleness of John Paul II.

As Warren said, “I'm an Anglican myself; but hurrah for the Catholics!”

Aug 6, 2002

The Statement on Murray Street
Graffiti makes a comeback in New York City, according to the New York Sun.

So does this mean that Bloomberg just isn’t up to snuff?

Is graffiti the problem? Is it the cultural decay associated with graffiti?

Aug 5, 2002

Fighting Rome
Reading about the Anglican break from Rome, I am a little suprised to observe the number of objections to the Catholic Church that no longer apply.

One huge conflict was the Latin vs. Vernacular debate. This was vehement and violent and very, very important, but today the Catholics might have well been reformed.

Another example is Garry Wills, from his book "Why I am a Catholic," quoted in a review by Andrew Sullivan, backing out of a traditionally Catholic look at the verse used to support Petrine supremacy:
"When Peter was told, 'I will give you the keys of heaven's kingdom, and what you tie on earth will have been tied in heaven, what you untie on earth will have been untied in heaven,' he was standing for the entire church, which does not collapse though it is beaten, in this world, by every kind of trial, as if by rain, flood, and tempest. It is founded on a Stone [Petra], from which Peter took his name Stone-founded [Petrus]; for the Stone did not take its name from the Stone-Founded, but the Stone-Founded from the Stone - as Christ does not take his name from Christians, but Christians from Christ.... Because the Stone was Christ."

This is remarkably like the exegesis given by the Martyrologist John Foxe in the opening of his book, defining the Rock as Christ and identifying the promise with the Faith, not with a line of priests.

This doesn't mean the two sides have been rectified. Rather they muddle of a debate has, I think, been brought down to the real dividing question.

What is the final authority for Christian doctrine? The question deviding Rome from the Protestants is the question of the authority of the tradition and the authority of the scripture.

Once that is debated, all other Catholic-Protestant debates are easily decided.

[But of course, even granting tradition the Catholics may lose out to the Orthodox, who have some really good cases against the authoriuty of the "Bishop of Rome" based soley on tradition.]

Aug 4, 2002

Is it the ghost of Nietzche?
Jeff Nelson and I talk more about the link between Nietzche's power morality and Islamic Terrorism on Atlas.
That Bad Conservative Feeling
Derbyshire peddles Conservative gloom. “It’s good! You’re supposed to feel bad! We’ve lost! The world is only getting worse!”

He offers us a list of things to bring back the bad feeling. His list is true I think, but he leaves out the premise, the very Conservative/Traditionalist premise, that things cannot improve. That’s the premise I, as a Christian and a Postmillenialist, reject.

I recognize the accuracy of his identifying this attitude as a Conservative attribute, in the Burkean sense of standing athwart history, of supporting yesterday opposing today.

I think this is wrong, from a Christian point of view. The Bible speaks of the triumph of the righteous, the progressive expansion of the kingdom of God, making the world a footstool for his feet. The army of the Christian Church marches into the future.

I am a Conservative only in the modern American political framework. I believe the future will be better than the past. I believe good will win and right will prevail.

Postmillennialism allows us to take on the world with the great and Christian belief that, with the redemptive power of Christ’s blood and the transformation power of the Holy Spirit, good will trump evil.

So stick out your tongue at pessimistic fatalism and engage the world around you! We can change things and we will push forward through all these bad times.

Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Dylan Returns to the Newport Folk Festival
Bob Dylan came to the Newport Folk Festival again, for the first time since 1965 when he plugged in his guitar and went electric.

I wonder what went through his mind on that stage the other day. I wonder if he played a song for Pete Seeger who, legend has it, took an axe to the speaker system when Dylan plugged in, or for Alan Lomax, who dedicated his life to the music Dylan disrespected like a young punk, or for Joan Baez, the queen of folk who worshiped Dylan as the folk poet and troubadour.
Maybe he thought of Woody Gutherie, the man he once emulated.

I wonder if he bowed a little, apologizing for the anger of his youth.

Or, maybe, he just felt sorry the folk lovers had been a little more patient, less violent and less demanding he hold to an arbitrary acoustic dogma. I wonder if he wished they hadn’t forced him out of the folk festival for so many years, hadn’t insisted he be like them and not followed his own way.

I hope the man enjoyed the beat of his guitar and found a little peace from that frustrated day in 1965.
Acting a Man of God
Rod Dreher, talking about the just-released Signs, asks how often we see faith portrayed as manly in Hollywood. Well, pretty much when we watch Mel Gibson and, well, that's about it.

I'll watch Signs just for that.

Camping in Civilization
I’m not one for camping, really. I like nature but would much rather take a walk or a drive through the countryside. I like my clothes clean and my beds soft and my conversations interesting. The camping food is normally good, but I’d just as soon cook it in the back yard on a grill.

But the family wanted to go—it’s a great vicarious wild mountain man pioneer experience—and I’m leaving Thursday so I went. One day I said, I’ll be dirty and sleep on the ground and feel the cold water running through the creek.

They roll into the campground bringing civilization with them. Showers, beds, electric lights, razors and everything necessary to make the camping experience as much like the normal home life as possible.

So then I’m a camping purist. “It’s not camping if you bring a couch!” “What’s with coming in and plugging in the spotlights?” “A shower? You’re supposed to be dirty. That’s why they call it camping.”

And then I think maybe that’s why they like camping and I don’t.
"Englishmen used to believe in God—when they had an Empire!"

Aug 2, 2002

Blogging Itinerary
I’m off to a family camping trip for the next few days.

Posting is suspended while I’m in a tent reading and writing, or floating down Salt Creek to the Strait of Juan de Fuca in an inner tube.

Look for a return with doubly interesting posts Sunday afternoon.

I’m ending my summer break in Washington Thursday. I’ll be in D.C. for a journalism conference for a few days--where I hope to blog a bit--then in New York city for 10 days at an economic conference.

So look for interesting blogging from the ends of the Nation before a triumphant return to the fiefdom of Hillsdale.

Meanwhile: Get some sunshine, rest the computer and read a newspaper.
Artist explores contrasts on museum wall in 'act of drawing'
By Daniel Silliman

PORT ANGELES -- The artist’s notebook was sprawled open at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center Thursday, white pages open on the top of a piled stack of art books.

Spokane artists Melissa Lang’s neat printed writing and loose lines of drawing cross the blue grid of the book.

A loosely drawn bird, inked in black circles, perches on the thin line of a forked twig on the right side of the page. His head, cocked curiously, looks toward a list of the artists appointments to draw for children.

A phone number scrawled out upside down formed the ground beneath the bird.

Lang, an emerging Spokane artist working in residency on a mural beginning Thursday and lasting two weeks, stood against a large white wall in the Fine Arts Center.

Her hair was bound up in a red handkerchief, her denim jeans rolled up to her knees, the charcoal she was working with smudged across her jaw.

With a stick of charcoal in her hand, Lang gestured at the upper right corner of the wall, the emerging piece of art.

“I love the contrast between the delicacy of the lines and the dark foreboding,” she said.

She moves an outstretched hand in an arch. The charcoal scratched across the wall, leaving black and gray lines in a descending vine with tailing leaves.

Read the rest of my story of a charcol smudged postmodernist artist...
Enjoying Calvinists
Gideon Straus blogs about his love for the variety of Calvinism, even the stuff starkly different from his own Dooyeweerdian neoCalvinism.

Looking at his piece and the list of online sites he mentions I'd have to say that I, a Reconstructionist and an Anglican, also enjoy the Calvinists.

But I'm not one. Which is weird, I suppose, since I run (surf?) in all those circles read all those types of people and believe things said to be based on Calvinism. I even know who Kuyper and Dooyweerd are.

I just don't think the five point stuff works, is all. I understand it too.

But my logic can't make the stuff do anything positive. I can make it tie knots of meaninglessness. I can make produce determinism or fatalism. I can make it entirely irrelevant. I can make it dance on the head of a pin.

I just can't make Calvinism do a single positive thing for Christianity and find it stripping the absolutely necessary choice from the world we live.

But I love the Calvinists anyway.
Our Babel Fish
This site, which can translate blocks of texts and whole websites from one language into another, is pretty cool. It is still pretty limited, but certainly a good idea and a workable one.

I think the whole experience is rather heightened, though, by the association with the Babel Fish associated with Doug Adam's five book trilogy, The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Universe.

I rather expected them to be more slimey, seeing Adam's description.

--From a place that is "Mostly Harmless,"
The End of Simon
A company owner by Bill Simon, GOP gubanatorial hopeful, was charged with fraud and required to pay $78 million in damages by a Los Angeles jury Wednesday.

Bill Simon isn't folding his tent in this Gary Hart like turn of events, but he should be. Nobody can have the support of a morally conservative base and run a proven fraudulent business.

I’m disappointed in the man, someone I would have supported and probably worked for until now.

I don’t wish he the verdict had gone another way, or that they hadn’t been tried, or that voters would overlook his fraud. I do think it was very unfair of him to cut out other contenders to fall like this. I feel betrayed and I just liked the fellow; imagine those that worked for him and backed him.

I wish the man had never won the primaries. I wish he'd never gone into politics, I wish he had left bloody well enough alone.

I hope the Calif. conservatives can hang on to their end of the political spectrum and run somebody next time without become stooges for a fraud.
Defending Creeds
In his second and concluding article in defense of creeds, Greg Uttinger on Chalcedon writes about the development of the Apostles Creed.

I was a little disappointed by this, though I love the creed and its use in worship. It's just that the title--the Apostolic conection--makes it slightly more palatable to primitivists who reject (or think they reject) any use the Church tradition in hermeneutics. As Uttinger points out the dates of the creed well past the death of the Apostles, the connection is often made for the uniformed Evangelical Primitivist.

I think the harder argument would have been another creed, and would have made for a better argument. However, if he felt the Apostles was the best, then the point should have been made that the Apostles' connection was given to creed because it was the traditon of the Church and any belief aligning with the traditon had the Apostolic seal of orthodoxy.
Coming to That Point
When I know that no one else could write the story. Knowing that I am the one who can do a story justice, do a story the way it deserves.
In the Newsroom
White-haired women are waiting for obituaries to come through the fax today. More should be coming, normally more people die.

A photographer shots pictures unrelated to any story, pictures to stand by themselves in the morning's paper, and calls them wild art.

Aug 1, 2002

Celebrating the Music of the People: The Life of Alan Lomax
Describing an honest folk song on an early, pre-electric album, Bob Dylan said: “This song wasn’t written up there in Tin Pan Alley, that’s where most the folks songs come from now-a-days. This song was written down here in the United States.”

Blues guitarist and singer Bill Bronzy, being asked to sing a folk song, said he only knew folk songs. After all, he “never had heard no horses sing.”

Alan Lomax knew what they meant.

Lomax was the great musicologists, archaeologists and folklorists. He was the man who saved the natural music springing from America’s earth and being sung by people who just needed to sing. He searched America, and then throughout the world, finding people who were singing on the mountains and in the dust, to the clinking of chains and the beat of hoes and the rhythm of life.

If Lomax hadn’t discovered the music, the last few refrains would have echoed off the mountains and fallen silent.

A man who couldn’t sing himself, Lomax was a song hunter. He scoured the land and found its music. He was discovered the great American music and saved it from silence. He was a song hunter. Lomax discovered American icons Muddy Watters, Lead Belly and Woody Gutherie. He was dedicated to knowledge and understanding, good music and the culture of rural peoples and most of all, the hearty need to sing.

When he asked, men sang of love and crime and dust and poverty and envy and happiness and longing and life. They sang to hammer beats while building roads, cutting throats while locked in chains, dirty feet and dusty hills. They sang of poverty and they sang for free.

They sang for the love of singing. They sang and he recorded.

Alan Lomax died Monday, July 19 at the age of 87 in his Florida home.

Immediately before his death, a few of the recorded songs were produced on the soundtrack for the Joel and Ethan Coen movie, “O Brother Where Art Thou.” The soundtrack became a bestseller, brining the work of the obscure musicologists again.

If any man was deserving of an ode upon his death, it is Alan Lomax.

And because of Alan, the songs are playing for everyone.
Talking Theology
Discussing technicalities and complexities, I posted on Atlas about Revelation as an optional answer to the philosophical Is/Ought problem and David Heddle posts on his blog about the state of man after death and before resurrection, while I respond to his post (check the comment link below his post), complicating the issue.

Meanwhile, I’m looking for my pipe and armchair.
Avoiding Qwerty: Writers and the deadlines they ignore
A blogging fellow named Jimmy has an interesting post on the novel writer's deadlines and the sad state of the modern publishing industry.

All types of writers are bad at deadlines. It seems that deadlines are best met by those who are inspired and terrified by their editor. Of course, creative and selling novelists are just about the least likely to be those two things. They will also probably--unlike reporters who know the concrete reality of their stories--claim muses and whims and moods as reason to write or not to write.

Which is very bad, overall, for writing.

"I love the sound of deadlines," the hilarious science fiction writer Doug Adams once said. "I love the woosh they make when they go rushing by."

Novelists and other deadline-avoiding creatures should learn from the living reporter, who takes one of two routes:

1. Embrace the hack and pound the keyboard: the words must proliferate at your fingertips if you are to be happy.

2. Embrace the presure. You can't write without the energy, you must wait for the rising swell of the deadline wave and ride it down to publication.
Serious Christianity
In words endorsing traditon and orthodoxy, words sounding like G.K. Chesterton's case for the historic faith, T.S. Eliot said:
"You will never attract the young by making Christianity easy; but a good many can be attracted by finding it difficult."