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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Ultimate crimes, ultimate punishment

Should we make application of the death penalty swifter by shortening the appeals process? We have another execution scheduled for Aug. 31, which would contribute to our record-setting year. It's not that the state has suddenly become bloodthirsty, but that a lot of appeals are running out at the same time; the guy next up committed his crimes back in 1985.

Wonder if he smoked during recess?

There are still efforts to mine John Roberts' Indiana childhood for clues to his philosophy and personality, including this bizarre one, the purpose of which seems to be to explore the possibility that living in an area that once had exclusionary neighborhood covenants and a nearby race riot would somehow make Roberts a racist judge eager to dismantle civil rights law. "I think it's legitimate to look at the past if it tells you anything about the person.

Nailing down the moving middle

Some thoughts on Evan Bayh's quest for the White House:

The current Sen. Bayh is a moderate, while his father, though certainly never a far-left liberal, was in the ranks of Senate liberals.

And the younger Bayh seeks an entirely different designation among Democratic presidential contenders on the political spectrum.

The grip of madness

A group of us were talking about Dennis Rader on Friday and finally reached the same conclusions millions of other people have: 1. He's possibly the scariest of all the serial killers, and his calm recitation of his deeds was the most chilling thing we'd ever heard. 2. We could never see the world as he sees it if we tried for a million years.

I'm famous among those who know me

If there are so many ways to be famous in such small niches, maybe Andy Warhol's "15 minutes of fame" should be reduced to a minute or two. On the other hand, if you want to nominate me and make me a little bit famous, I wouldn't mind. One of the people in the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame is someone I once worked with.

Anybody but Hillary and Jeb

Yes, the yucking it up is definitely creepy. George and Bill are not John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, "serious men who stood for serious things," with "serious supporters who were not to be trifled with." Clinton and Bush 41 were very alike in one way: The presidency was, for them, the next line on their resumes, the job they should have because it's the one they had always been aiming for. G.W. is different because he has -- agree with it or hate it -- a set of core beliefs.

What a teacher really teaches

Her name was Helen Lee. She was my English teacher in high school, and she wouldn't let me get away with anything. I came into class one day, and she was waving a copy of The Spotlight, our school newspaper, at me; it had one of my articles on the front page. "Why don't you ever write anything this good for class?" she demanded. From then on, I tried to. A friend of mine once asked her why she'd given him a C on a paper when a classmate's paper, clearly not as good, had gotten a B. "You can do better," she said.

Show me the money

Not all drive-by shootings are by young-punk drug dealers. We shouldn't make light of what this man has done, but if I make it to 84, and somebody messes with me like this . . . I'm just saying, that's all.

Aloneness within the congregation

I just stumbled across this nearly three-year-old NPR piece on my favorite painting by one of my favorite artists. "Nighthawks" for some reason has always reminded me of the Powers hamburger place rather than a typical diner. I can just imagine somebody walking by on Harrison Street in the 1940s, looking in and wondering who the people were and where they would go next. That was Edward Hopper's genius.

Posted in: Our town

That is, er, will be really stupid

Out in Seattle, the people who run the editorial page have taken interactivity one step further. After the editorial board chooses a topic, it is posted, and readers are invited to send in comments before the editorial is written. The editor says some comments may show up as letters to the editor and some might even be quoted in editorials, though he admits that the pre-feedback probably won't change the editorial board's mind on anything. What do people here think?

Pssst, did you hear the one about People?

Apparently we want much more gossip and much less real information. That's one way to look at the drop in circulation of magazines like Time and Newsweek and the surging sales of People. But another is that people are continuing to abandon filtered news -- processed and presented by gatekeepers -- in favor of finding their own on the Web. Since gossip is by nature fluff that doesn't matter and doesn't have to be true, there is really noting to "filter."

Posted in: Current Affairs

Wiccan work it out

This is good news for civil liberties, religious freedom and the rights of stupid parents. If courts started grading people on what children are taught in the home, millions and millions of people would be in big trouble. Wonder if the couple cast a spell on the court to make the case go their way?

Posted in: Religion

Eminent domaniacs

Some undoubtedly thought the efforts to get Supreme Court Justice David Souter's house through eminent domain were just a prank by people who wanted to make a point about property rights. If so, it's becoming ever more elaborate. Hope they keep at it.

Some are more equal than others

Equal rights under the law? Not in Hawaii, apparently.

I met the man. Shook his hand

Vassar Clements has died. If you're not a big bluegrass fan, that won't mean much to you. If you are, this is a time for mourning. Clements played all kinds of music on all kinds of albums with many of the best musicians of the last 50 years. But it was bluegrass that he infused with his genius. He was just the best damn fiddle player around.

Posted in: Music

Love me, love my cats

I haven't cat blogged since my first week of doing this. (But Dutch and Maggie are doing fine, thanks for asking.) One of the reasons I'm not going to overdo it is that I believe cats should be accorded their essential dignity, which the people who put out this site obviously don't care about.

49.9 percent and counting

Here's another report from the field by Libertarian correspondent Mike Sylvester:

Comparable worthlessness

This is probably the last gasp of those still trying to find a reason to keep John Roberts off the Supreme Court. The idea in question is still a matter of dispute now, and it certainly wasn't "out of the mainstream" back then.

The agendas of grief

Let's be honest now. Cindy Sheehan was never just "a mom in a chair waiting for George Bush." Yes, we should sympathize with the mother who lost her son in a war, but once she decided to make a public spectacle of her grief, she put that grief into the service of other agendas.

Posted in: Current Affairs

Maple Leaf Rag

Never mind not reading the books you shouldn't even have. I'm ordering you right now not even to think about this. And I mean it.

Posted in: Books