Seed thoughts

So what did I do on March 21, the first day of spring, in Minnesota’s deep south, Winona? I planted a few tomato seeds directly into the dirt in my back yard. These were special tomato seeds, imported from Sicily. I probably did this because I can’t rid myself of my Faustian urge to control nature’s destiny. Natural curiosity lurks at the core of that devilish urge. Continue Reading

News story junkie

Now and then I take my old copy of Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield off the shelf. All story junkies love its opening line: “Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anyone else, these pages must show.” I confess: Because I’m a story junkie and because news stories are what we get as news, I’m a news junkie too. Continue Reading

Body parts

Because I’ve always been interested in what people believe, I’ve spent a lot of time looking at pictures of their gods. For many years the ancient gods––Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Greek––seemed very bizarre. The people in those old lands had so many strange looking gods I wondered how they knew what to believe. Continue Reading

Landfill ghosts

It’s too simple-minded to call it what it is: Military waste. What else are we to make of the belated revelation that the remains of “at least” 274 American soldiers and more than 2700 unidentified miscellaneous body parts have been dumped in the King County landfill just south of Washington, D.C. And it would be crass to call it a cover-up.

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Why Jackie Robinson smiled for the camera

The first snowfall on a cold November day sometimes helps me adjust to the coming December dark. From the comfort of my living room the snow seems serene, a quiet balm to the noise blaring out of the TV screen. A longing for baseball settles in like laziness. Baseball––its long yawns and outfield lawns––revives a sense of hope in me in a way football, the warrior sport, never does. Continue Reading

Advice to Spencer

Why should I presume? What advice can I––an old guy likely to confuse his aches and pains with the collapse of the entire world––give to a sixteen year-old boy wondering what to make of his life? Only old fools qualify for the wisdom of age. I’m happily defunct––retired on a pension, with mortgage and health insurance paid, and some savings for rainy days that don’t seem to be letting up. Continue Reading

Entitlements: A brief history personalized

Imagine how surprised––and confused––I was to learn that I had extraordinary blood coursing through my body parts. From my father I learned that the original “DeGrazia” probably came from some backsliding nun who delivered (no doubt in swaddling clothes) the very first DeGrazia to the Mother Superior of some nunnery in the south of Italy. Continue Reading

How smart is dumb?

I recall how stupid I felt when I first learned about Howard Gardner’s “Theory of Multiple Intelligences.” Gardner, in his 1985 book Frames of Mind, tells us that “I.Q.” should not be narrowly defined by intellectual capacity, or, in other words, the ability to “think.” Rather, he says, there are diverse “intelligences”––Spatial, Linguistic, Logical-Mathematical, Musical, Interpersonal Continue Reading

9-11 goats

There was no surprise, and I found myself unmoved. I had a strange sense that it had already occurred––that a long-awaited inevitability expected to arrive from a distant past was finally here and already had disappeared into tomorrow’s news. And it was such a video game moment that it failed to detour me from seeing the kids off to school. Continue Reading

Belief addiction

I’m not sure it’s really good news: Dr. Michael M. Miller of the American Society for Addiction Medicine has announced that addictive behaviors are “a result of brain dysfunction.” It’s troubling to learn that our brains are involved, especially since brains are supposed to do good things for us. Continue Reading