An e-mail to Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR)

November 8, 2006

Dear Senator Smith,

I was a Republican from the early ’80s until 2003, and I’m sad to say that I agree with this assessment someone wrote yesterday:

“The modern GOP — or, more specifically, the axis of ’70s campus Republicans now running it — really is just a criminal enterprise disguised as a political party.

“Dirty tricks, large and small, are a sorry fact of life in American politics, but what the Republicans have done over the past few weeks — the surrealist attack ads, the forged endorsements, the midnight robo calls, the arrest threats, the voter misinformation (did you know your polling station has been moved?) — is sui generis, at least at the national level.”

I hope, Senator Smith, that you want to play a role in cleaning up the GOP. I have been horrified with what I have seen during this election campaign.

/s/ Steve Casburn

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Taylor Street shaker

November 6, 2006

My housemates and I were jolted last night by a 2.6-magnitude earthquake.

Not a very big earthquake, true, but you can really feel it when the epicenter (18th and Taylor) is only a mile away.

How buildings decay

November 4, 2006

I was at a conference at the University of Portland a few weeks ago, and several of the sessions were held in Franz Hall, the campus’ relatively new classroom building.

The building and its classrooms have an attractively modern and stylish look. Nothing has been broken, and none of the built-in equipment has become obsolete. I would imagine that Denney Hall at Ohio State seemed very similar in the early 1960s, right after it had been built.

By the time I got to OSU, though, Denney Hall was aging, worn out, and dingy. Few people who went to Ohio State in the ’90s would have a kind word to say about the building or the fixtures in it.

And I wonder whether Franz Hall will be like that in 30 years.

Japanese cachet

November 3, 2006

Last year, Sudoku was the big rage among casual puzzle-solvers.

At the Deadhead Fred yesterday, I saw a book of “Kakuro” puzzles. The latest new thing.

Except that such puzzles already have an unexotic English-language name: Cross Sums. And I did my first one almost 30 years ago.

A compromise

November 3, 2006

Yesterday was both wet and cold, rather than the usual one or the other. I went out to get the mail at 3:45, and was greeted by a damp, yowling Snubby.

I couldn’t let her in because one of my housemates is allergic to cats. But I couldn’t just leave her there.

So I spent the next half an hour sitting Indian-style on my front porch with a purring cat on my lap.

Adventures in cooking

November 2, 2006

After several test runs, I successfully made an omelette today for the first time.

Then I grabbed some garlic, oregano, pepper, salsa, and cheese, and turned it into a pizza:

It was good

What conservatism is for me

October 31, 2006

A self-described leftist writing in to Andrew Sullivan summed it up well:

[Y]ou see classic conservatism as the defense of liberty from brutality through doubt, caution, common sense and rigorous self-examination[.]

The right-wing paradox

October 31, 2006

The right wing in America is stuck with the paradox of holding a philosophy of “conserving” and an actual order it does not want to conserve. It keeps trying to create something new it might think worthy, someday, of conserving.

— Garry Wills, Confessions of a Conservative, pg. 211.

Parties and libraries

October 30, 2006

There is a Multnomah County library levy on this year’s November ballot.

When a library levy was last on the ballot (November 2002), there was a decided split in who supported it. In the ten precincts that would be John Kerry’s best two years later, 73.93% of voters supported the levy. In the ten precincts that would be Bush’s best, 39.69% supported it.

Narrow the comparison to the best five precincts for each, and Kerry’s precincts gave 75.88% of their votes for the levy while Bush’s gave 36.20%.
(Kerry’s precincts, in order: 4027, 3151, 3274, 4106, 3097, 4022, 2099, 1025, 4041, 3004.)

(Bush’s precincts, in order: 5602, 0158, 5604, 5846, 0547, 5842, 5425, 5855, 5851, 5201.)

Too little, too late

October 28, 2006

Peggy Noonan has not left her President. Her President has left her.

I left the Republican Party three years ago because the truth of every one of Noonan’s criticisms of Bush (and several other criticisms as well) was obvious by then, and I was disappointed and disgusted that no one in the GOP was willing to challenge him. Every major Republican political figure (Noonan included) was content to stay silent and let things go to hell. I wanted someone to have the courage to run against Bush in the 2004 presidential primaries; to take a stand for a different vision of what the Republican Party could and should be. No one did.

That’s why I have no sympathy for Noonan and her ilk. They made the bed in which they are about to lie.