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Showing posts from September, 2005

Bad Boys, School Superintendents & Wal-Mart

Last night, I ran into two of my former students outside the movie store. Brandon and Ricky were always in trouble for one thing or another during their three years in middle school. Both of them flunked almost every class but were passed on year after year, as is the habit in most middle schools. Ricky had a violent streak and was finally placed in an alternative school for much of his 7th grade year. It was mostly 7th grade macho stuff that got him in trouble. Like so many other lost boys and girls we see in middle school halls every year, he had virtually zero parental supervision. Brandon's mom tried to become more involved, but her son was soft and lazy, a follower who seemed hell bent on being cool above all else. Brandon had a good sense of humor and was one of the few in my class who understood my jokes, but he hadn't learned much academically since the third or fourth grade.

They saw me first as I pulled into the parking lot. "Hey, Mr. Smith." It's always…

Where's the Love?

The following is in response to Kevin Elmer's commentary in the News-Leader.

Kevin Elmer's one-sided and utterly simplistic commentary in Sunday's paper left me wondering when so-called "conservative Christians" will ever cut the rhetoric, take off the blinders and view the world around them.

Elmer builds a flimsy argument that Islamic radicals love death over life, while we in the U.S. prefer the inverse - and then neatly concludes that this Islamic fatalism is the big difference between them and us. They love death; we love life.

I would argue that many Americans, even devout Christians like Rev. Pat Robbertson, are quite selective about their love of life. It depends on whose life it is - or the stage of development. From conception to birth, we're all about the sanctity of life - but for babies being born into abject poverty, like many of those left behind in New Orleans, well, they're on their own. We build bigger and better prisons to house those kinds…

Used Syringes

Today was a first. I've lived in this neighborhood for 14 years, and although there are a few shady characters renting houses a few blocks east of here, it's always been a quiet neighborhood of dog-walkers and kids on bikes. Sure we have our share of teenagers in their baggy pants and slightly askew ball caps trying to look tough, but they're just kids. Right?

I was cleaning up some stuff in the yard today, picking up what people typically throw out of their cars - a couple of fast food cups, a plastic grocery bag. But the grocery bag had something in it. I opened it up and looked down on somebody's discarded meth kit . . . three syringes, one still had a few cc's left in it, and a couple of spoons.

After thinking about all the little kids that live next door and across the street, I decided to call the police. I didn't really think they could do much, but I figured it might confirm what they already suspected about a certain house - maybe a red flag that might g…

The Drowning of New Orleans

The following snip is from Scientific American, October 2001:

New Orleans is a disaster waiting to happen. The city lies below sea level, in a bowl bordered by levees that fend off Lake Pontchartrain to the north and the Mississippi River to the south and west. And because of a damning confluence of factors, the city is sinking further, putting it at increasing flood risk after even minor storms. The low-lying Mississippi Delta, which buffers the city from the gulf, is also rapidly disappearing. A year from now another 25 to 30 square miles of delta marsh--an area the size of Manhattan--will have vanished. An acre disappears every 24 minutes. Each loss gives a storm surge a clearer path to wash over the delta and pour into the bowl, trapping one million people inside and another million in surrounding communities. Extensive evacuation would be impossible because the surging water would cut off the few escape routes. Scientists at Louisiana State University (L.S.U.), who have modeled hu…