Michael

McCain’s gift

August 21, 2008

John McCain’s inability to remember how many houses he owns is a gaffe that will prove more damaging than John Edwards getting a $400 haircut. Count on it. Especially because McCain, after consulting with his staff, said the number is at “at least four” when in fact it may be ten or more. The Jed […]

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For about the tenth time in a week, I’ve been hit up for money by the Democratic National Committee. Solitictors call me on the phone, send me emails, corner me outside the grocery — you name it. This evening, a nice but persistent young woman came to my door to ask again. When I told […]

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Goodbye sun, hello world

August 19, 2008

Easily distracted, I am. Especially when I find a web site based on an idea brilliant in its simplicity and stunning in its execution. Welcome to Constant Setting, featuring a single photograph taken in a place where the sun is setting at the moment you view it. (As I write, the fiery sky of Bora-Bora […]

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A mystery no more

August 18, 2008

“How old are you, Jimmy?” I ask. He’s sitting behind the wheel of his thirty-year-old, faded blue Cutlass Calais, fiddling with hearing aids in both ears. I’m standing in the street next to my home office, leaning down to talk to Jimmy through his open car window. For years I’ve wondered about this gaunt man […]

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Art after death

August 17, 2008

Insane, abandoned, and anonymous. This describes many people who lived out there lives at the Oregon State Hospital in Salem, starting in 1883 and into the 1970s. Their cremated remains were put in numbered copper canisters and stored. But time and chemical reactions have turned them into art after death, art challenging perceptions of what […]

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Following the boy sailor

August 15, 2008

Not often do I read about a sixteen-year-old boy and immediately wonder what he will do doing thirty years hence. I hope I’m around long enough to see how life unfolds for Zac Sunderland, who’s attempting to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world. Zac’s departure two months ago from Marina del […]

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Behind McCain’s mask

August 14, 2008

In the 21st century, nations don’t invade other nations. So proclaims John McCain. His short-term memory loss is, well, disturbing. Maybe Iraq doesn’t count. More disturbing are his efforts to interject himself into an international crisis for political gain. But then again, one of his top foreign policy advisers, Randy Scheunemann, was until recently a […]

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Feast amid ghosts

August 13, 2008

We sit at long tables, nearly one hundred of us, amid fields of bounty. It’s Sauvie Island, ten miles west of Portland. I can smell the earth, fertile from Columbia River floods. The sun eases toward the hills, setting aglow acres of vegetables sprawling between guardian white oaks half a millennium old.

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Wildlife in the city

August 12, 2008

“Daddy, I see raccoons,” Atticus says over breakfast today, his third birthday. The raccoons frequently visit our garage roof and use the ladder leading to our Portland backyard.

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Obsessive close encounters

August 11, 2008

An autopsy photo? A closeup of an alien’s skin? Or nature in all its bizarre beauty and symmetry? Hint: I captured the image today at Hughes Water Garden south of Portland in Tualatin. Going there is my crack cocaine: the sound of running water and plants everywhere.

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A new poll concludes that eighty percent of Americans now believe global warming is a real threat to our future but more than half of them are unwilling to bear any financial hardship to address the danger. Of course there would be no hardship, only opportunity, if we hadn’t wasted most of the last eight […]

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Gun: does not compute

August 9, 2008

Atticus Bales Tong, three days shy of three years old, doesn’t know the meaning of the word gun. Suzame and I didn’t set out to deprive him of this knowledge, though it’s no doubt a dividend of allowing scant TV viewing — and only since he turned two. I learned this today when I handed […]

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Arc of nations

August 8, 2008

I doubt I’ll ever see anything as wondrous as tonight’s opening ceremonies at the Olympics. Never has a story been told so vividly on such a sweeping scale. Perhaps only an authoritarian government could pull it off. And yes, the story glosses over a shameful past and present. But to conceive and execute it so […]

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