Category Odds & Ends

On Simone Biles and the Triumph of Women

Let’s face it, guys: the women have won. And though it was a long time coming, their victory was inevitable. They just had to push long enough, through a protracted labor, and wait us guys out, allowing our emotional deficits enough time to send us crashing into walls, dazed and confused and shouting ourselves hoarse all the way.

And as it turns out, their victory is ours too, though it has been a grudging one, and we have not yielded all that gently (who does, about what?). And there is still a long way to go.

But that is to get ahead of ourselves a little bit, and how we got here and what it means is worth a word or two.

***

Many millennia after women began to strain against the bounds of the metaphorical straitjackets males had kept them cloaked in since our hunter-gatherer days in caves, it has become abundantly clear that all else being equal, the world would be in a hella better place if women had ru...

Read More

Weeding As a Way of Life

Last fall we teamed up with our neighbors with whom we share a driveway that crosses our respective property lines and hired a guy named Max to bring his excavator out, level the driveways, then smooth out a nice load of gravel (“Gravel #67” from the Stone Center of North Carolina) to give it a uniform look.

Part and parcel of the effort was to bury or otherwise obliterate the veritable weed farm that had grown industriously through the mashup of crummy soil and lifeless little stones over the years.

Max told us that his scraping and sizable overlay of chunky new stone would keep the weeds to a minimum so we shouldn’t have to worry much about an invasion for a good long while. Which is when I should have followed up to ask for a more quantitatively specific definition of “good long while.” But I didn’t.

I came to find out in short enough order, though: about six months.

***

***

That’s when spr...

Read More

About Those Swimming Moroccan Migrants

I’ve been trying to picture plunging into the ocean off the Moroccan coast and swimming to Spain in search of a job and a new country. What would you wear? A bathing suit? Bermuda shorts? Long pants with a belt and some proper underwear? A long-sleeve shirt, a T-shirt, no shirt? Barefoot, I assume? Or maybe old tennis shoes or some kind of water shoe?

What else, if anything, would you try to take with you?

Would you maybe tie a small hiker’s belt to your waist,  into which you place…what? What extra does one think to take along when swimming to a new world?

A spare shirt? Some prized family jewelry you hope to sell for a few euros once you wash ashore and evade the waiting soldiers?

Some sealed nuts or candy? A good-luck amulet? A toothbrush?

What would you take, besides the shirt on your back, assuming you are wearing one?

***

***

In its annual migration report of January, 2020, the World Economic Foru...

Read More

How (and Why) Do They Do That? Notes on the Murmuration of Starlings

One of my go-to lines whenever I behold some unbelievable scene of nature that I am compelled to believe because I am seeing it with my own eyes is, “That almost makes me believe in God.” In many ways, I have woven a whole theology around that sentiment, about God not as a being but as energy, not a noun but a verb, an expression, an animating essence of all things large and small, dark and light, a perfect marriage of the transcendence we strive for and the immanence that we are.

I think that may just about be it for my theologizing today. (Though I reserve the right to change my mind before I’m through turning things over here.)

It’s as if hundreds of different chamber orchestra septets were cuing only off each small group member playing the same dazzlingly fast Bach concerto, which then becomes a huge symphony orchestra spread across a vast landscape, all keeping perfect time using only an invisib...

Read More

Iceland’s Awesome Volcano and “The Idea of the Holy”

When restaurants open fully up again and we can begin to enjoy all the familiar rituals such as our server exclaiming “Awesome choice!” when we order the chocolate truffle rather than crème brûlée off the dessert menu, I will suppress the urge, being the generally kind person I try to be in most every circumstance not involving Ted Cruz, to snag my phone out of my pocket and click onto the You Tube channel featuring the video footage I am going to show you below.

That will include refraining from even light-hearted but definitive commentary along the lines of, “Oh, you poor sheltered child, you don’t know from awesome! HERE is Awesome!!”

I am moved to share these sentiments after spending a good part of my morning marveling at the sheer, well, awesomeness of the volcanic eruption that began lighting up the mountains some 25 miles outside the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik on March 19...

Read More