In 1988, on a trip to Uganda, we carried a polaroid and were able to take family shots, village shots, etc. and give them the photograph right then and there. I can’t seem to find a Polaroid these days. And while everyone seems to get a kick looking at the LCD screen on the back of my camera, it’s not the same.

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They are walking in prayer today in Church Rock New Mexico, thirty years after the largest radioactive accident in U.S. history (Three Mile Island happened a few months earlier, in March 1979). When the dam broke at the United Nuclear Corporation’s Church Rock Uranium Mill in the early morning hours, eleven tons of radioactive wastes and ninety million (90,000,000) gallons of radioactive waste poured into the Rio Puerco with such force that the liquid waste lifted manhole covers throughout Gallup twenty miles downstream and people fled to hospitals complaining of burning feet.

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Elk, Yellostone National Park

While Yellowstone is posting record numbers of visitors this year, National Parks as a whole have seen attendance slide in recent years.

In hopes of reversing the trend and re-introducing folks to our wonderful public lands heritage, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced back in June that the Department would waive entrance fees nationwide to all parks on three prime summer weekends. This is no small offer as park entrance fees have really climbed in past years. Nearby Yellowstone sits at $25 for entrance (that does give in and out privileges for 7 days).

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If we have learned anything from the past year, we should have learned that we are plagued by a kind of dark age, an age of ignorance, an age of economic illiteracy…

We rely on the priests and the prophets who have unmediated access to the gods of commerce. They translate the dense, opaque, confusing world to the rest of us. And they wield enormous power. They are often referred to in otherworldly, nearly priestly terms. Warren Buffet is interchangeably the “Sage of Omaha” and the “Oracle of Omaha.”

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The tickets are paid for, the seat assignments are locked in, and at this time next Tuesday I will be headed to Africa.

This trip is part of my commitment to “be like Barack,” that is to do everything Obama does: hail from Chicago (check); have two daughters and a lovely wife (check); play a not-embarassing game of hoops (check); rule the world (hehe). Still working on the Portuguese water dog.
Continue reading Have Camera, Will Travel

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I suppose I also wept a fair bit because his suicide frightened me. It raised the specter of suicide as a kind of foreordained trajectory, a price one pays for a Wallaceonian empathy, for a DFW-tuned brain. This is an age-old notion usually dismissed as sophomoric and romantic. Still, it’s not often in your life you read someone who reminds you that you’re not alone only to wake up one morning and find that once again you are.

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Science has a way of creeping up on you. It’s sneaky—like classical music can be sneaky. One day you’re thrashing to the Ramones and Nine Inch Nails and the next you find yourself in tears in the middle of your living room because you just heard Lazlo Varga play a cello in ways you never thought possible and the strings’ vibrations reached out and bent you into a kind of fetal position of perverse ecstasy.

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