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Odds and Ends

My local newspaper ticked me off this morning.  At least half of it did.  For those of you who don't know, the Chattanooga Times-Free Press used to be two papers, one progressive, the other conservative.  The papers merged and since neither editorial board was willing to cede control of content or opinions to the other, they both maintained (and continue to maintain) editorial pages.  Anyway, the conservative side of the paper was attacking Barack Obama today for saying that he thought the United States should use foreign aid funds to combat world poverty.  According to the paper, Obama's proposal would cost up to $865 billion over 13 years.  Nevermind that the war in Iraq, which this side of the paper supports wholeheartedly, would cost more than twice that amount over the same period.  Wouldn't combatting poverty be a better use of our treasure and power?  Isn't it possible that we'd be thought of better throughout the world if we were as generous with food and medicine as we are aggressive with guns and bombs?

My daughter (the older one) is reading the Constitution and Bill of Rights for homework.  And because it's densely written, and because Dad has a Ph.D. in history, we've been going through it together whenever she has trouble deciphering a section.  Reading it through once more, explaining to her what the clauses mean and why they're important, I'm struck repeatedly by the genius of the Founders.  In particular I was struck by the following clause in Article I, Section 8, which gave Congress the power "To promote the progress of science and useful arts by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries."  My daughter thought it very cool that the copyright I enjoy on my books is provided for in the Constitution.  I thought it was cool that our Founders so prominently recognized the importance of the arts and sciences, even if our current leaders do not.

One of my dearest friends from college, Carla Wise, a brilliant, wonderful woman who has studied science and ecology for years and years, is now making a go of writing professionally.  Her focus is on sustainable agriculture and the local foods movement.  Here's a link to her latest blog post, which is well worth reading:  http://eatdrinkbetter.com/


Australia, Ghost Gum
David B. Coe

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