News

NASA has reassured me that there’s no reason to freak out a week from today. That’s when an asteroid 150 feet in diameter, or half the length of an American football field, will pass closer to Earth than any other asteroid that we’ve seen coming our way. The flyby distance is 17,200 miles, or one-tenth […]

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Pistol-Packing Teacher Math

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December 19, 2012

The growing call for arming teachers is getting louder than gunfire. Forget that the tactic would protect students as well as holding dynamite over a chemistry class Bunsen burner. What about the cost in these fiscally fraught times? Here are quick back-of-a-napkin estimates: 7.2 million teachers nationwide multiplied by $500 for the Glock G17 pistol, preferred […]

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Speed Test: DMV vs Guns

December 18, 2012

Someone said it’s harder to get a driver’s license than buy a semi-automatic rifle like the one used in the massacre in Connecticut. Needing to renew my license, I decided to test the claim today. After the Oregon DMV in North Portland was so efficient — or my timing so good, I wondered why bother with the […]

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What’s Evil, Dad?

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December 14, 2012

How can I fetch our seven year old, Atticus, at school in a few hours without imagining the slaughter today at a Connecticut elementary school? Will I scan the surroundings for danger, perhaps a sniper on the bridges overlooking his school? Should I scrutinize every adult I encounter on campus to see if they’re hiding […]

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Fruitful News

September 29, 2012

I like to grow things. I like practical solutions. And I like mischief with a purpose. Thus my immediate attraction to two stories about innovative ways to grow fruit. The first: nurseries developing what they call fruit salad trees—trees grafted to bear several different fruits from the same trunk. It’s perfect for our small urban […]

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Spank Me, Teacher

September 26, 2012

Via the Hubble Space Telescope, we now know that some starlight in the night sky has taken 13.2 billion years to reach Earth. That distance to newly discovered galaxies is so vast that the mind can’t visualize it. (In one year alone, light travels nearly 6 trillion miles.) Unfortunately, it’s not hard to visualize another […]

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Unburdened by Hate

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September 18, 2012

The increasingly bitter dispute between China and Japan over islands most Americans have never heard off is hard to understand from our distant shores. Why so much frothing rage, especially on the streets of Chinese cities? Yes, the government is fanning some of it as part of a propaganda war. But step back and consider how […]

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Simple Act of Defiance

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September 17, 2012

In need of inspiration this late summer day? What always works for me is reading about someone’s simple act of defiance. So thanks to Jerry Peterson, a physics professor at the University of Colorado in Boulder. After the state Board of Regents voted to allow people with permits to carry concealed guns at most places on […]

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In a Look

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September 11, 2012

Reading someone’s facial expressions is usually a fool’s errand. Mine have been misread many times, often to my detriment. Much has been written about President George W. Bush’s face at the moment he learned of the first 9/11 attack, when terrorists crashed a jetliner into the north tower of the World Trade Center eleven years […]

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Tax Cuts and Baby Bans

August 14, 2012

Paul Ryan proves I’m poorly versed in the dark arts of selecting prospective vice presidents. My simple mind predicted Mitt Romney would never choose a running mate whose chief policy proposal focuses a laser light on the would-be president’s chief liability: questions about how he made a fortune and taxes he paid on the money. The […]

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Curiosity of Time

August 10, 2012

On Sunday night I watched the live video feed from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab as Curiosity approached the surface of Mars. The tension and then joy that I felt were mere glimmers of what the scientists and engineers experienced, judging from scenes at Mission Control. When their celebration subsided, my first thought was that these […]

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Denying the Darkness

August 1, 2012

Numbers don’t lie, according to the well-worn truism. Case in point is this scorecard: “Juiced by Climate Change: Extreme Weather on Steroids,” which quantifies the dire changes befalling us. The numbers arrive on a day when Big Oil and King Coal’s puppets-on-a-string Republican senators take part in another Senate hearing to deny the undeniable. It’s easy […]

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The Name We Share

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March 18, 2012

What’s in a last name? Nothing really if you think of it as a mere collection of letters. Just the opposite though if you consider the effect of hearing it aloud. Upon hearing my name an image comes to mind: an anchor thrown from a fast-drifting boat snagging the bottom. It claims and holds my […]

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