Miscellaneous Whatnots

Never walk through the kitchen appliance aisle at Target when you’re craving coffee and have a credit card.

Things To Do Instead of Blogging

Remodel your guest bathroom. Strip wallpaper. Apply three coats of joint compound, sanding between each coat. Roll on a coat or two of primer, then two coats of paint.

Selling My Soul to Blogger

People who blog are, by their nature, archivists, and posts like this serve to capture a significant (relatively speaking, of course) moment of development. I found several such pages while digging through the archives and enjoyed revisiting them.

Temporary Hiatus

Long Pauses has been a much-needed retreat for me this year, and I genuinely appreciate the small community that has gathered here.

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggedy-Jigg

We got stuck in 20 inches of snow in Dayton and ate beignets at Cafe du Monde. All in all, a good but exhausting couple of weeks.

Confidence Man

In the last month, Bush has given America’s highest civilian honor to George Tenet, the man who most on the right scapegoated for his “slam dunk” on Iraq intelligence. He’s nominated a petty criminal for the nation’s top security position. And he’s repeatedly emphasized his support of Donald Rumsfeld. I think we’re reaching a point when Bush’s statement of “confidence” will be read quite differently from how it’s intended.

Popular Frontiers

“Static is the place where there isn’t much–abandoned buildings, fog, cotton fields forever–but the absence has a presence. There’s sound in the silence, like the wheel grind and tape hiss in a Mountain Goats song.”

Right Back Atya

Karen Hughes will, I assume, deny that this is the real President Bush.

Some Kind of Perspective

And then one of my Mexican students reminded us of the 1968 Olympics that were held in Mexico City, where only ten days before the games opened 267 students were gunned down and more than 1,000 were wounded during a protest at the Plaza of Three Cultures. And then two of my South Korean students told us of their government’s secret decision to send troops to Vietnam despite the public’s protest against such a move. And then one of my Chinese students, a remarkable young woman who exudes joy like no one I’ve ever known, said, “Yes. The same in China. During the Cultural Revolution.”

In Lieu of Original Content

“The people have spoken, goddamn them.”

The Long View

From Bob Woodward, we’ve learned that President Bush doesn’t give much thought to history — “History? We don’t know. We’ll all be dead.” — but for those of us who do, the San Francisco Chronicle has put together a nice collection of statements from prominent military historians, including G. Kurt Piehler, a member of my dissertation committee.

Presidential Referendum

Not surprisingly, President Bush was at his best last night when asked about his faith and family. Ignoring for a moment the relevance of such questions in a supposed domestic policy debate that never addressed the environment, the Patriot Act, or stem cell research, those two questions allowed Bush to put aside policy (which is awfully complicated) to talk instead about feelings and relationships.

Party Politics & the Movies

Yeah, I know that Kerry’s plan for Iraq is only slightly less doomed to failure than Bush’s, and I know that Kerry’s years in the Senate have taught him too much about political compromise, but here, finally, is an honest-to-goodness, no-doubt-about-it reason to get behind the Kerry/Edwards ticket.

To-Do List

Pack for tomorrow’s flight to Boulder (iPod, digital camera, cell phone, laptop, projector, books, and . . . oh yeah, clothes) . . .


Yesterday was my first day as a full-time writer. I spent the morning cleaning my office, stacking books, arranging my desk — you know, preparing.

Still Big News

Yesterday, after weeks of bloody fighting in Najaf, The Times ran another piece on Falluja, and I’m at a lost to explain why it wasn’t front page news. In all of the sound a fury of the Sunday morning spin fests, shouldn’t someone have been talking about this?

Aw, dat’s cute

A friend asked for a childhood photo, which was enough to send us digging through old albums. Quite a couple, eh?

Ch- Ch- Ch- Ch- Changes

On September 7, I’ll be leaving my full time job and taking a ten hour/week graduate assistantship so that I can try being a writer for a while. I’ve decided to call it “being a writer” instead of “working on my dissertation” because I don’t dream of being a dissertator for a living.

More Church Stuff

My recent rambling on “relevance” is far and away the most-read, most-linked-to, most-commented-upon post in Long Pauses history, which is both strange and strangely comforting. The more I search, the more fellow travelers I find.

Mr. Bush Comes to Town

It’s interesting to see how Bush’s rhetoric has evolved. While admitting — finally — that WMD have not been found, he continues to litter his speech with allusions to them, though they’ve now morphed into “weapons of mass murder,” and — in a turn of phrase that would have made Monicagate-era Clinton proud — they are now modified with the nebulous term, “capability.”


I don’t, by any stretch of the imagination, claim to be a Merton-like contemplative, but I am suffering the realization that I no longer know what relevance the evangelical church has for me. If I leave, I want it to be a considered decision rather than the slow consequence of atrophy.

The Living Room Candidate

It’s embarrassing to admit just how effective those “morning in America” spots really were.

Get Mortified

The most recent episode of This American Life (which is worth listening to in its entirety) ends with an eight-minute reading by Sascha Rothchild. And by “reading” I mean “really funny, really frightening performance of several pages from her teenage diary.”

Pretty close

What he actually said: “In terms of this administration, we laid out the facts very clearly for the American people.”

Christian Entertainment

“No, sadly the popularity of Bad Christian Art is not the result of a lack of Good Christian Art. It is a result of the rejection of metaphor.” — Slacktivist

Catchin’ Spears

I’m guessing that it’ll go something like this:

Cattle Call

My wife and I spent the weekend in Louisville, Kentucky, where, among other activities, we spent two hours in a long line, in a hot hotel, surrounded by other people who thought that it might be fun to be an extra in the new Cameron Crowe film.

Moral Equivalence

A nice post yesterday from slacktivist.

Amen, Brother!

“It’s not as if all preachers, including for instance John Donne, were merely dispensers of predigested, soundbite rhetoric and cliche; good preachers are gifted articulators of the thorniest, juiciest, most dangerous, most contradictory problems, dilemmas, controversies.” — Tony Kushner

Friedman on Fresh Air

In case you missed it yesterday, Terry Gross’s interview with Thomas Friedman is well worth a listen. The first twenty minutes features a discussion of globalization, in general, and outsourcing to India, specifically.

Is It Just Me?

We Americans represent less than 5% of the world’s population. For every 21 citizens of the world, only one is an American. We Americans represent less than 5% of the world’s population. For every 21 citizens of the world, only one is an American.

My Famous Wife

Joanna was featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition

Looking Back

Yesterday, I found the “Peace on Earth, No War on Iraq” sign that I carried in a protest during the rush to war, and it occurred to me that I am genuinely proud of that act. It’s difficult to explain, but I know that it was absolutely the right thing to do. I guess that’s why I’m taking some comfort from quotes like these, all taken from traditionally conservative commentators

Boxes, Boxes, Boxes

The movers loaded up a truck yesterday, and it should arrive in Knoxville on Monday. Our new home will soon be filled with familiar furniture, all of it bittersweet for now. We’re both exhausted.

Because You Lied

Andrew Christie imagines what he would tell Dick Cheney if he were in Kerry’s shoes. I just wish that Kerry would say something. His “we need a broader international coalition and more troops” line is already wearing thin.


When I asked my ESL students last night about the great literatures of their native language, one of the Iranians told me about the Arab conquest of Persia. In their effort to erase all evidence of Persian culture, the ancient Arabs outlawed the speaking of Farsi, which, of course, only served to inspire a new generation of writers.

God Save the Queen

Joan Chittister watched Condoleezza Rice’s testimony with great interest, hoping to learn more about our government’s pre-9/11 knowledge of al-Qaeda. Instead, she was stunned by “the amount of self-congratulation spent on the fact of the testimony itself.”

Writing in the First Person

My brain is turning soft. It’s not that I’ve forgotten to update my 2004 film viewing and reading lists; it’s that I have, for all intents and purposes, abandoned my intellectual life. I don’t have the energy for it. Or the time. Or — and this is the big one — the attention span. And it’s starting to wear me down.

CSS Zen Garden

With my last reworking of Long Pauses, I attempted to rebuild its architecture from the ground up using CSS. Cross-platform and cross-browser problems stopped me dead, though. Just when I thought I had it all figured out, I’d open a page in Netscape or Safari and watch it all blow up.

If You Build It

The Metro Pulse features a short article this week about the need for a new and much larger library in downtown Knoxville. The unfolding of this project should prove interesting, as it will essentially ask city and county taxpayers how much they “value” the library. The elected decision-makers are already eyeing the $60 million facility recently completed in Nashville, which is a good thing, as far as I’m concerned.

Liberalism and Literature

A comment left here on Wednesday by Daniel Green led me to his blog, which in turn led me to his wonderful article, “Liberalism and Literature.” A critique of the “academic left” and of ideological criticism, in general, Green’s piece is refreshingly articulate, well-informed, and even-handed.

City Planning

I’m desperate for distractions right about now. (Note: writing a dissertation on Cold War literature does not qualify as an emotionally productive distraction from grief.) And I think I’ve found a good one.

Shit Happens

I don’t get upset about things over which I have no control. I just don’t. It’s not in me.

By the Numbers

I’ve been daydreaming lately about the upcoming Presidential debates, wondering if the eventual Democratic nominee will find the courage to really take Bush to task.

A New Read

The New Pantagruel is a just-launched Web journal “run by a cadre of intemperate but friendly Catholics and Protestants.” If Stegall and his compatriots manage to achieve even half of the promise on display in his introductory comments, then I will be reading each quarter with great anticipation.

Democracy in America

De Tocqueville is near the top of my “Darren, seriously, isn’t it about time that you read this?” list. I stumbled upon this passage while reading Wendy Brown’s Politics Out of History, a provocative defense of critical theory as a potentially invigorating voice in the discourse of liberal democracy.

Feelin’ Crispy

I’m sympathizing right now with Clancy, who, a year-and-a-half into her doctoral work, asks, “Is this what burnout feels like? I have so much to do and no desire to engage any of it.”

My First Block Quote of 2004

“All around the world there are those who believe in the basic goodness of the American people, who agonize with you in your pain, but also long to see your human goodness translated into a different, more compassionate way of relating with the rest of this bleeding planet.” — Bishop Peter Storey of South Africa

Affluent Bias

In “Affluence Remakes the Newsroom,” Tim Rutten argues that contemporary journalism is dominated not by a liberal bias but by a “middle-class quietism that the majority of reporters and editors share with other Americans.”

Changing How You See the World

Listen to Joe Wright’s commentary from tonight’s edition of All Things Considered. Joe’s a medical student at Harvard — 23 or 24 years old, I’d guess — and he already gets it.