Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Short Story: The Spice of Life… In a Small Town

[Published in Life Will Surprise You in the End (2014).]

The Spice of Life… In a Small Town
It started as an inconsequential, even trivial, comment. Ray and Jolynn Anderson were spending a little time on their porch swing. They liked to swing and talk like this several times a week – just swinging and talking about this and that – several times a day when the weather was fine and nothing needed tending. They would wave to any neighbors who walked or drove by and then they would talk about their neighbors too. Today, they were killing a little time until Jolynn’s usual appointment for a check up with Dr. Madison.
Life in small town Kansas could be demanding in the way that milking cows or taking out the trash or going to church was demanding. There were just things that you had to do regularly and do just-so. And if you didn’t, then somebody would roll their eyes and then, if you still didn’t get on the ball, you started hearing about it. Ray hated it when Miss Bessie, the cow, Mrs. Anderson, his wife, or Pieter Wojicke, the Pastor, rolled their eyes.
Life could also be demanding in the way that a tornado or a wedding or

Essay: Why Everybody (except angry white males) Should Vote Democratic

Why Everybody (except angry white males) Should Vote Democratic
This was written in the spring of 2012 - The names have changed, but the sentiments are worth running up the flag pole again.
I don’t begrudge “Tea Party” sympathizers their frustrated state of mind. Times are hard and they have been getting harder for the last several decades – along with the pace of change. Everybody is struggling and unhappy. But, this is not a good time to seriously think that we can go back to family farms and small-shop manufacturing. Neither is it helpful to start arming yourself because your President is black, some of your neighbors speak Spanish or Vietnamese, or some Muslims are building a place of worship. Really, just what are you planning to do with all of that firepower?
We rescued a small dog a while back. We knew that the dog would eventually quit trying to jump on the cats and that the cats would quit hissing at her – but the critters only knew that they were anxious and confused right now. One kitty wouldn’t come out of the laundry room for several days. They will never be great friends but they can now nap all together without making a fuss. My point is that we humans ought to be able to do even better.
The Democratic Party represents the best long-term interests of the majority of U.S. citizens. Even if you don’t like their attitude, diversity, or permissiveness, a Republican vote, this year, is against your best interests. Most angry white males are in their own tightly self-constructed world. You can love them and feed them, but

Essay: Predictions for 2013

Predictions for 2013
(Scheduled for Chum for Thought #2: Blood in the Water, 2014)

This was written in the final days of 2012. You lose some; you win some; some just keep on stalking you through the night.
[This column was published in the Dayton Review in 2012. You can look it up. Somehow, I missed plugging it into the original Chum For Thought. No, I didn’t have any regrets about flubbing some predictions. I just screwed up. I wish I could have predicted that. It’s grievously outdated now, but some of our problems, like pulling dandelions, may be intractable. Enjoy.]
 THE END OF THE WORLD? – So, the end of the Mayan calendar last December was not the end of the world and the Age of Aquarius has been a wash so far. So, that leaves us with…

Friday, September 20, 2013

Essay: Religion, science, and our quest for truth

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Religion, science, and our quest for truth

From the book: Chum for Thought: Throwing Ideas into Dangerous Waters by David Satterlee

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Chum For Thought:
Throwing Ideas into Dangerous Waters

Religion, science, and our quest for truth

Both religion and science build theoretical models to explain observations. Sometimes the models work, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes sacrificing infants to Baal brings productive crops, sometimes bleeding a patient breaks a fever. Most cultures have rejected both of these models (religious and scientific, respectively). Even having a thoroughly-consistent theory does not establish truth. Traditional Chinese Medicine successfully treats "spleen deficiency" for problems totally unrelated to our anatomical spleen's function. Both religious and secular authorities have found themselves needing to adjust their accepted doctrine.

Sometimes religious ideas lead secular as in the Genesis record of the sequence of life’s appearance on earth, or the sanitary laws of the Israelites coming out of Egypt. Also, science is seriously beginning to explore the efficacy of some types of prayer. Sometimes secular ideas lead religion. In 2000, The Catholic Church apologized