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Driving Through Indiana

Driving home through central and southern Indiana Sunday night, mostly through the countryside on roads less traveled:

Asphalt twisting and turning through rolling hillsides, trees and corn and soybeans and grass all shades of summer green, the slanting evening light soft and golden — Indiana’s prettier than you think; dozens of old barns, some looking as if they could fall down at any moment, some with old-fashioned tractors poking out, still serving the purpose for which they were built decades ago;

a guy in an orange shirt leaning alone against a guardrail on a hill above town, smoking a cigarette, waiting for nothing; an man with a white beard and glasses in the gas station, heads for the men’s room, the sign says out of order, we both look at the women’s door, smile, someone’s in there, so we wait;

shirtless kids jumping on a trampoline in a trailer’s sloping front yard that someone’s mowing, cars and miscellaneous junk stacked around; tractors plowing low fields that have been flooded and are now dried out, hoping to get a crop planted, some places still soaking wet; long rows of hay bales shrink wrapped in white plastic; large, immaculate houses built on the backside of nowhere — where do these people get groceries? where do they work?;

a gray veteran at the end of an exit ramp, eyes downcast, holding a sign — “homeless, hungry, please help,” and rows of cars streaming past him; country churches, some with empty parking lots, some full, and in a field next to one church, a guy sitting on stool next to his pickup, rifle propped on his lap, white targets at the other end of the field;

boats launching into a sparkling lake, a tiny roadside spit of beach with a family fishing; two enormous, decadent hotels — and one casino — rising out of the countryside in Larry Bird’s hometown; NASCAR on the radio is surprisingly entertaining, eight men calling the action around the track and in pit row, picking up from each other seamlessly, making me want to press on the gas and pass recklessly, but I don’t, coasting into my driveway just as the race ends.


Things Carter Wants to Do When He’s Bigger

1. Put his toothbrush on the top shelf (instead of on the sink).

2. Drive the blue car.

3. Drive the van.

4. Use the weedeater.

5. Use the lawnmower.

6. Do all kinds of things.

7. Be in charge.

If You Can’t Run With the Big Dogs, Stay on the Porch

Cindy McCain: Families are Not Fair Game (cnn.com)

Cindy McCain, today: “I do not think that spouses and family members … are fair game. There has to be some decorum left in politics and in American journalism as well. Our husbands are the candidates.”

Michelle Obama, in February: “For the first time in my adult life, I’m really proud of my country.”

Cindy McCain response: I “am proud of my country. I don’t know about you, if you heard those words earlier — I am very proud of my country.”

Among other Republican responses, the Tennessee GOP, last month: Put out a Web ad highlighting Michelle Obama’s comments and implying she is unpatriotic.

John McCain, last week: Every candidate’s wife “should be treated with respect, and if there’s any disrespectful conduct on the part of anyone, those people should be rejected … I have the greatest respect for both Sen. [Barack] and Michelle Obama.”

Barack Obama, yesterday: “I think families are off-limits. I would never consider making Cindy McCain a campaign issue. If I saw people doing that, I would speak out against it. And the fact that I haven’t seen that from John McCain, I think, is a deep disappointment.”

McCain campaign, yesterday: “Sen. McCain agrees with Sen. Obama that spouses should not be an issue in this campaign … Unfortunately, when the Democratic National Committee was attacking Mrs. McCain [for not including enough information with her tax returns], Sen. Obama was not strong enough to stand up and speak out … it’s unfortunate that he would single out others for a standard he himself has failed to live up to.”

Laura Bush, last week: “I think she probably meant ‘I’m more proud’  … you have to be very careful in what you say” when you’re campaigning. “That’s one of the things you learn, and that’s one of the really difficult parts both of running for president and for being the spouse of the president, and that is everything you say is looked [at] and, in many cases, misconstrued.”

Michelle Obama, yesterday (on The View): She was “touched” when first lady Laura Bush came to her defense.

BenHoak, right now: Spouses should not be personally attacked in presidential campaigns (unless they’re, say, the same sex as the candidate or dealing drugs to kids). But if your wife is representing you as part of your official campaign, everything she says is fair game. If you don’t want your wife to be criticized, don’t send her out to speak for your campaign.

(That last paragraph was not on cnn.com. So don’t look for it there.)

Tim Russert

It’s odd when someone like Tim Russert dies. You don’t know him at all, have never met him, but you still feel like you’ve kind of lost somebody because you’ve seen him on television so often. He seemed like a likeable guy that you’d want to hang out with. He paid enormous public tribute to his father. And he was a huge sports fan, so he had that going for him. He obviously loved his job, and he did it well. You could see that reflected in his funeral, which brought people together that normally wouldn’t have much in common. Both presidential candidates were there, seated side by side. Bill Clinton and Condoleeza Rice sat next to each other. Bruce Springsteen gave an acoustic performance at the end.

Good article in the Wall Street Journal on his death and how he worked as a journalist. He was known for being tough but fair, and he actually took on the topic of media bias. One quote from the end that stands out in today’s “even the terrorists have rights so we have to treat them like American citizens and give them cushy mattresses and cable TV” atmosphere:

 We ended our conversation that day with an exchange about the criticism he took from some on the political left for wearing a red, white and blue ribbon on his lapel when he interviewed Vice President Dick Cheney on Sept. 16, 2001. He told me a good friend of his died at the World Trade Center on 9/11, and that the friend’s family had asked if he would wear the ribbon, “and I never thought for a second about it.” … 

“But what about those who say journalists shouldn’t wear red, white and blue ribbons, that by doing that somehow you’re taking the government’s side in some debate or another,” I asked him.

“It is imperative,” he told me, “that we never suggest that there’s a moral equivalency between the United States of America and the terrorists. Period. I’ll believe that until the day I die.”

 Nicely put.

Here’s a funny promo video for Boston College basketball that featured Russert, his son Luke (who went to BC) and some BC players:


Woman at the Well

Picked this up this performance of a monologue written from the perspective of the Woman at the Well (John 4) from J.C.’s blog. As he said, it’s an excellent example of how we can use the Arts for the glory of God. This is good stuff.

(HT: Jonathan Christman)



What to Do During a Rain Delay

Really, we’re all just big kids.

Exhibit A is several members of the Texas Rangers (a Major League Baseball team). Their game on Saturday was cancelled due to rain. So what better way to wait out the rain delay than to turn the infield tarp into a giant slip-n-slide? Nicely done. And the fans that were left appreciated it.

How cool would this be?


Unexpected Complication of Having Two Mommies

From a fascinating article in the New York Times Magazine — When Mom and Dad Share it All:

(The article is about a concept called equally shared parenting — more on that later. One section is about same-sex parents.)

Harlyn Aizley, mother of a 6-year-old daughter, describes the moment that her then-partner, Faith Soloway, first took their newborn in her arms in the delivery room. “Just moments after I gave birth,” Aizley writes in the anthology “Confessions of the Other Mother: Nonbiological Lesbian Moms Tell All,” “Faith scooped up the baby, cooed into her squishy newborn face and said: ‘Hello there. I’m your mommy.’ I wanted to kill her. Faith, that is. I wanted to be Mommy, the only  Mommy.”

Well, yeah.


Our Backyard on a Summer Evening


LOST Finale

Finally watched the LOST Season 4 finale from a couple of weeks ago (online episodes are a great thing). Good stuff. What a great show.


So, where’d the island go? Why is Locke calling himself Jeremy Benthem and how’d he end up in the casket? You think Jin’s really dead? Will they make it back to the island? Any thoughts?


Deep Philosophical Question

Does it really do any good for the checkout clerk to ask if you found everything okay? If you hadn’t, you wouldn’t be checking out. You’d still be looking.