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Opening Arguments

First there was Spike; now it's Al

Well, are you going to call Comcast and demand that it carry Al Gore's new TV network? Gore is aiming his programming at young people and must not think highly of their attention spans:

Based on material previewed on its Web site, Current TV at first glance seems like a hipper, more irreverent version of traditional television newsmagazines.

You know how to hiss, don't you?

One of the nice things about old friends is that you don't feel the need to fill all the conversational voids with mindless chatter. You can just enjoy each other's presence in companionable silence. Favorite movies can be like old friends. You don't have to pay attention to the action -- you've seen it a dozen times or more. Having the movie on in the background while you read the newspaper or fold the laundry makes you feel like you're in the neighborhood you grew up in or with old high school buddies you hadn't thought of in awhile.

5 seconds of city's 15 minutes of fame

Michael Martone -- professor of creative writing, award-winning short-story writer and son of retired  Fort Wayne Community Schools Asst. Superintendent Patty Martone -- has a piece in the August Harper's magazine ("Contributor's Note," Page 28), reprinted from the Autumn/Winter 2004 issue of The Journal. In it, he chronicles his encounters over the years with next-door neighbor Ed Mensing, an assitant fire chief in Fort Wayne whose job was fire prevention.

Posted in: Our town

The car crashed. John died. The end.

I wrote earlier about how composing haiku could help people polish their short-blog-posting skills. Now, here's another exercise,  the 50-word-fiction-writing site. Write your very, very short stories, post them and see them on the blog almost immediately.

Some of the stories don't seem all that compelling to me. So here's my effort.

It took 20 years for me to appreciate my father's advice. By then it was too late.

"Did it have to come to this?" Brenda asked.

I'll be 312, and UB313

This is exciting: An astronomer with the California Institute of Technology says he has discovered a 10th planet in our solar system, about 9.7 billion miles from the sun and orbiting it once every 560 years; talk about a daylight-saving-time issue. It was way back in 1930 when the ninth planet, Pluto, was discovered, so this is the end of a pretty long dry spell. For now, the planet is designated 2003UB313; the CIT astronomer says he has proposed a real name, but won't say what it is.

Posted in: Blogroll, Science

Cat food

If you hear something and wonder if it's true or just an urban legend, snopes.com is the place to check it out. But the folks there get some questions they admit they can't answer. Furthermore, they wonder just what circumstances led people to ask such questions in the first place. I enjoyed the question from the person who observed that "they say that if a person dies . . . the cat . . . will eat the dead person's face off . . ." True, too true, I'm afraid.

Posted in: Food and Drink

Don' let the door hit you on the way out

No offense to Donald Trump. but wouldn't be a lot cheaper just to move it instead of renovating it? I bet France would just love to have it.

Posted in: Current Affairs

Steming the tide

People can't seem to figure Bill Frist out. Is he putting politics above princple, abandoing George Bush on the stem-cell dilemma because of his own presidential ambitions? Or is he, in fact, putting princple above politics, taking a position his medical experience tells him is the right one, despite the fact that it will anger the religious right that is important to those seeking the Republican nomination? The best evidence we have is what the man himself says, and I found his speech on the subject convincing.

Posted in: Religion, Science

You're luckier than my classmates

I attended my high school class reunion Saturday night. For some reason, they asked me to be the guest speaker and talk about veterans. Here it is (Download my_speech.pdf), if you care to read it. The all-caps stuff is what I planned to emphasize by tone or inflection. Don't know if I actually did -- just be glad you didn't have to listen to my sweaty-palms, stammering performance.

The rules of the game

We've had another week of speculation about how the Senate hearings on Supreme Court nominee John Roberts will go, which means another week of incoherent nonsense from people who either don't know what the Constitution is supposed to be or don't care.

The opposition to Roberts seems to have coalesced into two major talking points:

We don't need no stinkin' books

Virginia Postrel notes one sign that our love of the digital world can go a little too far.

Posted in: Blogroll, Books

No place to run, no place to hide

I'm all for economic development and bringing in businesses and replacing buildings and moving things around and not being complacent and embracing change and all that. But, come on, rural development? Can't we leave one place alone that stays the way it always has, just so we have a retreat when all this city agitation we've been creating starts to get to us?

Dear constituent: Buzz off

OK, I've told you about turf, those interest-group mass-produced letters to the editor disguised as the individual efforts of real readers, and how newspapers look for them to prevent them from getting published. What do you think about this?

No miracle on 34th Street

Well, we knew this was coming, but it's still a sad day. If you like the idea of Fort Wayne having an L.S. Ayres, an Indiana mainstay forever, too bad; start getting used to the absence of the name. In fall of 2006, Federated Department Stores is dropping the L.S. Ayres brand and renaming all those stores Macy's. We're luckier than Indianapolis, at least.

It's a blog world after all

If you're reading this, I presume you're comfortable with the idea of checking out a few blogs every day just to keep up on what the world is up to. If you're looking for some good sites to bookmark, no matter what your interest is, check out this list of blogs, by category, reviewed by Forbes.com. Opening Arguments does not seem to have made the list as yet.

Posted in: Blogroll, Weblogs

We here in -------- are outraged

How you can have input when President Bush nominates a nut like --------- for the important position of ----------. If you have read my earlier post on turf, this parody will seem too realistic to be funny.

And Wayne Newton could be the principal

I love the Daily Rant we had in last night's paper:

Maybe the state of Indiana should put Cherry Masters in all the schools so we could afford to educate our children. I don't know who we expect to run this country when we are all old.

Boy Scouts 98, ACLU 0

Speaking of the Civil Liberties Union (national division), at least suing on behalf of teens who want to stay out at night is an interesting social question. The ACLU spends so much time and energy on its obsession with driving all religion out of the public square that it's sometimes hard for me to take it seriously on other issues. The idea that the founders, in trying to prevent the establishment of a national religion, somehow meant to keep Bibles off teachers' desks and the 10 Commandments and Boy Scouts off government property, is preposterous.

Posted in: Religion

Go home and play Grand Theft Auto, kid

After a car-egging incident late at night that led to a teenager being shot and killed, the city of Indianapolis is vowing to tighten enforcement of its teen curfew law.

Wordy QWERTY, Ya'll

If you love language, check out this for a debunking of some popular myths. Eskimos DO NOT have 200 words for snow. People in Appalachia DO NOT still talk like Shakespeare. The Chinese character for crisis DOES NOT combine "danger" and "opportunity." Lots of interesting stuff in the comments, too, including a thorough discussion of the origin of the QWERTY typewriter keyboard.