News

Easy Sex-Ed

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March 9, 2012

I want to teach sex education in Utah’s public schools. If the governor signs the Legislature’s recently passed bill as expected, the state will limit the curriculum to abstinence. No teaching about human sexuality, contraception, and homosexuality allowed. I’ve already written my lesson plan. It would be the same every day. Learn four words: “Just […]

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JFK, the Moon, and Friends

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November 22, 2011

The biggest news events of my school days were the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and Neil Armstrong’s hop onto the moon in 1969. Like me, my friends at the time surely remember where we were and what we were doing when tragedy struck 48 years ago today, and when America’s triumph […]

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Awaiting Destiny’s Test

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November 12, 2011

For decades a thought arrived often and too pushy to ignore: I had a purpose in life not of my choosing. Without warning I would have an instant to save a stranger’s life. The chance was destiny. Imagined scenarios would flash past, chief among them rescuing a drowning child. Maybe the idea emerged from a […]

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Miracle Odds

November 9, 2011

My previous post, inspired by Steve Jobs’ last words, explored what happens when we die. But what about the here and now and the unknowable number of days ahead of us? Jobs himself used the certainty of death as a motivator and guide for how to live every day. In his much-praised commencement speech at […]

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Stubborn Illusion Of Time

Loving skeletons

November 6, 2011

Two recent stories of love and death feel connected. This is absurd considering that 1,500 years and 5,000 miles separate them. But why let facts get in the way of a feeling, a yearning? Last month an Iowa couple married for 72 years died an hour apart while holding hands. The wife died first but […]

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Vicarious No More

November 4, 2011

When I live vicariously through someone, it usually involves imagining a pleasurable or adventurous event. Now I’m experiencing the opposite, imagining the terror of friends waking at night in their burning house. That’s terrifying enough, but add to the plot a baby and arson. The couple and their five-month-old son, asleep on the top floor, […]

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Face to Face

June 11, 2011

A few years ago I wrote here about a work colleague who disclosed that he had a chimpanzee. I remembered his disclosure while reading about a chimp ripping off a Connecticut woman’s hands and much of her face. Now comes news that the woman has undergone a successful face transplant, the tenth such surgery in […]

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Fatal Fall Into History

ancestor

April 8, 2010

News about the discovery of two mostly intact skeletons from nearly 2 million years ago focuses on claims that they represent a previously unknown branch in the human evolutionary tree. I appreciate the potential significance of Australopithecus sediba, as the middle-age woman and adolescent boy have been dubbed. But my focus keeps drifting to questions […]

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Creature of Catastrophe

If CO2 was pink

April 7, 2010

Stumbling upon intersecting observations by two writers today, I was reminded of a vacation several years ago at the Olympic Peninsula’s northwestern tip. I was drinking coffee in the lobby of a lodge. A new guest was checking in. The innkeeper, making small talk, asked what he did for a living. “I work for Duke […]

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Why of War Fades

July 25, 2009

The last European survivor of World War I has died at age 111. Harry Patch’s late-life interviews are cautionary. Reading this story, I’m struck by a glaring hole: unmentioned is why nations sent millions to be slaughtered. A close friend of Patch said the veteran stressed two messages: “Remember with gratitude and respect those who […]

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Back in the day

April 20, 2009

Reading about this descent into sexting hell reminds of simpler times. Never thought I’d get nostalgic for mooning, the worst offense involving nakedness from my school days. One of my younger brothers was suspended for a week from junior high for flashing his bare butt at a girl during phys ed class. He claimed she […]

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Violence of Spring

March 28, 2009

The ‘hood has changed after a week of violent crime only a short walk from my Northeast Portland house. Count them: two stabbings in two gang fights at the Lloyd Center Mall, another gang fight at the Applebee’s restaurant across the street from the mall, a bank robbery, and a gang-related shooting at an Asian […]

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Man with a Chimpanzee

February 18, 2009

News of the chimpanzee nearly killing a woman in Connecticut delivered a memory. About fifteen years ago, during chitchat before a late-starting meeting, a colleague at a Florida newspaper mentioned that an elderly chimp lived with him. There was an uncomfortable silence. Then this man, friendly but blandly reserved, came to life as I questioned […]

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