Where the streets have two names

I’m all for commemoration. Great people who have achieved great things against great odds are worthy of our gratitude and respect. What I don’t understand is the necessity to commemorate these people by naming streets after them. Over the last year, Portland experienced a seething debate over the proposal to rename Interstate Avenue “Cesar Chavez Boulevard”. The debate frequently devolved into a racial argument, as if a failure to support the change was a veiled commentary on the acceptance Read more [...]
September 26, 2009Permalink 4 Comments

The Dark Side of Nostalgia

At work, we listen to NPR on a "boom box" radio that likely appeared in a K-Mart sale flyer in 1982 with starbursted pitches like "AM/FM/cassette" and "convenient compact size" (translation: bass-less 3" twofers---not much boom in this particular boombox). It works fine for the limited sonic frequencies produced by Noah Adams and Ira Flato, so we never give the machine much thought beyond the functionality of the "on" button. Today Blair decided we should utilize the cassette feature, especially Read more [...]

Same, but different

I encountered a light-hearted example of communication failure last weekend while having breakfast at Laurelthirst, where many of the breakfasts are numbered and available in two forms – two-egg scrambles or three-egg omelets – and several options for sides. A couple sat at the next table and the waiter was taking their order:Woman: “I’d like the #6, please, as a scramble, with a biscuit, and hash browns.” Man: “I’ll have the same thing, except a #5.” I understand what he was Read more [...]

The Ridictionary

This is an interactive page---you are encouraged to Submit a word. Latest additions are in bold. 105 (one-oh-five)Perfect. Derived from a test score, A-plus, plus the bonus points. "He usually dates butter girls, but that one he introduced last night, she was straight-up 105." (wpr) AlaplasteredThe concerning, ghost-like pallor and vacant stare that overtakes a person who has a tolerance for 4 beers and has imbibed 11. "Dude, that skinny kid is alaplastered---we better move him away Read more [...]

Just the facts, ma’am.

Listening to OPB news this week, I heard a story about a triple slaying in Oregon, and a particular factoid caught my ear. I visited OPB’s website and found the attached article, which included the line that had piqued my interest:“Thompson said all four knew each other, and the three victims were unemployed.”Is the reporter implying that their unemployment was a contributing factor in their deaths? Oregon’s unemployment rate at this time was 12.2%, so being out of work is hardly an exclusive Read more [...]

This hat does everything — badly

I'm not usually one for hat commentaries -- most hats look awful on me, and you know what they say about people in glass houses -- but I saw a hat this weekend that's worthy of note (a near-replica of which appears here), as it manages to inexplicably combine two contradictory hunting-hat ambitions: 1) Camoflage, the holy grail of hunting garb, a pattern that allows the wearer to stealthily disappear into the bush and brush and wait for prey. The goal of camo? To avoid being seen. 2) Safety Read more [...]

Alien water logic

NASA launched The Kepler this week, a space probe designed to look for planets that may share earth’s atmospheric characteristics, and thus the capability of sustaining life. According to a news story on FoxBusiness, "Kepler is designed to find the first Earth-size planets orbiting stars at distances where water could pool on the planet's surface. Liquid water is believed to be essential for the formation of life. Anyone who pays attention to NASA's efforts knows that water is the holy grail Read more [...]


McSweeney's was once a a online literary delight, posting daily bits of humor and absurdity that made me envious of their authors and eager to be among their ranks. My occasional submissions began in 2005, and each was rejected or ignored. It was heartbreaking to be dismissed by a club one wants desperately to join, but over time, I have taken solace in the decline of the site, which has become overtly self-satisfied with its own cleverness. (Though some content remains exceptional.) You may Read more [...]

Turn that frown upside down

Too much bad news. That’s what callers to a radio show were saying this morning, that the media’s constant reinforcement of bad news makes the struggling economy a self-fulfilling prophecy. But with the daily news of mass layoffs, business failures and escalating unemployment, how do we put a positive spin on the news? Quite simply---invert the numbers:Oregon unemployment has risen to 9%? Then let the headline be: Oregon employment continues to hover at 91%A major manufacturer lays off 5% of Read more [...]

A cheat sheet for the bible?

Regular readers know that I am enamored of simplified study guides. Whether long form Idiot's Guide books, or short form laminated placemats, I enjoy the oversimplification of massive ideas into small, digestible bytes. (Sorry, pun unintentional.) As I scoured Amazon recently for something completely unrelated, I chanced upon "Faith Charts", a product that summarizes concepts of Catholicism into convenient six-page documents. The first that I encountered was The Bible at a Glance. I grew up Roman Read more [...]