Essays

ESSAY- Frontline of freedom: Local reservist learns lessons in Afghanistan
Published on Apr 24th, 2008
9 comments Lee Payne with Afghan soldiersPhoto Courtesy Lee Payne Sal-lay now tan tabreek! Happy New Year!  March 21 marks the 1387th Afghan new year– 1,387 years since the Prophet Mohammed was...
ESSAY- Arms bared: Racist origins of the 2nd Amendment
Published on Apr 17th, 2008
49 comments Racial politics dominated the talk in Washington after Barack Obama called on Americans to stop ignoring the country's racist past and move forward. The message apparently didn't reach the U.S....
ESSAY- No chill: The myth of 'demographic winter'
Published on Apr 10th, 2008
0 comments Humanity will soon experience a "demographic winter" if we can believe a new documentary that recently premiered at the conservative Heritage Foundation. The demographic winter is supposed to result...
ESSAY- Yumm: All-local ice cream worth some screams
Published on Apr 3rd, 2008
0 comments "You had me at 'ice cream.'"  My husband was trying to talk me into a detour on our way from Charlottesville to Roanoke last week, saying there's a new ice cream joint, Perfect Flavor, right on...
ESSAY- At home: You teach your child to drink
Published on Mar 27th, 2008
0 comments Research shows that there are fewer alcohol-related car accidents in countries with a drinking age of 21. But America's 21-year-old threshold– which no European country emulates–...
ESSAY- Book time: <i>Not Reading Lolita</i> in Charlottesville
Published on Mar 20th, 2008
2 comments Young and old, black and white, 29 adults stare aimlessly in Charlottesville's juvenile court waiting room. Two infants sleep in parent's laps, and two toddlers suck their thumbs. I put down my book...
ESSAY- Hotel history: Book recalls when strangers weren't welcome
Published on Mar 13th, 2008
0 comments For the women of the mid-19th century, a fine hotel was a perilous place to be. Not only did respectable gentlewomen run the risk of consorting with prostitutes (a popular book of etiquette advised...
ESSAY- Polaroid shuttered: The end of the little white square
Published on Mar 6th, 2008
0 comments It looks like instant film photography is set to go the way of the VCR and cassette player, another commercial casualty of the digital revolution. The last wheeze of analogue photography was audible...
ESSAY- Choices, choices: Who'd you rather peer at over the pillow?
Published on Feb 28th, 2008
0 comments "Well, you overlook a lot of things."  That's the wisdom my mother once shared with me when asked to define the key to a happy marriage. Of course, what I would overlook might not be what you...
Early and often: When voting machines need fixing
Published on Feb 21st, 2008
0 comments We voted in primaries on February 12. How can we be sure our votes were properly counted? We can trust and hope, but we cannot be certain. Charlottesville uses DRE (directly recording electronic)...
ESSAY- Tough question: Figuring out who's the real you
Published on Feb 14th, 2008
0 comments Worried about the future? One of the perennial concerns of some bioethicists is that some portion of humanity will rush– to their detriment, say the conservatives– to adopt various...
ESSAY- Tooting Charlotte's horn: NC example bodes well for new train
Published on Feb 7th, 2008
0 comments On November 19, a ribbon-cutting ceremony opened the Blue Line of Charlotte's Lynx light rail operation. Charlotte's mayor, Pat McCrory, called the event a "monumental moment" in the city's history....
ESSAY- What if... Obama wins? Will Europe quit its carping?
Published on Jan 31st, 2008
1 comments Charlottesville voters reached out to Obama in October. FILE PHOTO BY TOM DALY I was recently asked to write a story about Barack Obama for a newspaper in my native Ireland. I was surprised at the...
ESSAY- Affluenza: When it's time to stop wanting it all
Published on Jan 17th, 2008
0 comments Lying on the built-in lounger about 10 yards from the swim-up bar at Puerto Vallarta's Grand Velas Resort, the middle-aged bottle blonde was reading, oddly, a softcover textbook. She splashed a...
ESSAY- Can it: Chemicals in plastics wreak havoc
Published on Jan 10th, 2008
0 comments I'm standing in my kitchen, hand poised over the trash. The cover is open, the wastebasket awaits my decision: are you going to toss that thing in here or what? But it's so pretty, this polycarbonate...
ESSAY- Unclaimed baggage: One traveler's loss is another's bonanza
Published on Jan 3rd, 2008
5 comments Spend any time at an airport baggage claim, and it won't be long before you spot a solitary suitcase going round and round on an otherwise empty carousel. Ever wondered what happens to that suitcase...
ESSAY- Now's the time: Take politics out of redistricting
Published on Dec 13th, 2007
2 comments Is Creigh Deeds tired of driving over the mountain?FILE PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO For weeks before the November elections, news media all over the state touted the fact that all 140 seats in the...
ESSAY- Forensic monopoly: Who decides who gets the samples?
Published on Dec 6th, 2007
0 comments America's forensics system, the part of our criminal justice system responsible for scientific examinations of crime-scene evidence like fingerprints and DNA, is rife with errors. Some mistakes, like...
ESSAY- Food fleece: Biofuels are eco-bad and people-bad
Published on Nov 29th, 2007
0 comments Sigh. Another day, another inane strategy to fight global warming. The bee in my bonnet this time is biofuels. They're nothing new, but governments and corporations are pushing biofuels with a...
ESSAY- 80% solution: Swinging a hammer in New Orleans
Published on Nov 22nd, 2007
0 comments Already, it felt like I'd pretty much used up the muscles in my right arm, and I'd only been swinging the hammer for three hours. We had five more hours until quitting time.  Woody Allen said...
ESSAY- Secret Santa: Why don't athiests peddle <i>their</i> junk?
Published on Nov 15th, 2007
4 comments Every year at this time, as visions of non-denominational sugar plums dance in our heads, Christmas derives great spiritual power from candy-cane bagels, reggae versions of "Silent Night," and...
ESSAY- Renewable? Water woes require drastic measures
Published on Nov 8th, 2007
0 comments It has been said that water is a renewable resource, but whether that statement is true depends upon the whims of Mother Nature. Weather is not predictable. We can't assume rain will come; it's quite...
Roger & Me: Seeing films through the master's eyes
Published on Nov 1st, 2007
0 comments   Ebert discusses Citizen Kane at the Jefferson Theater in 1992. FILE PHOTO BY HAWES SPENCER Filmmakers and film lovers are flooding into Charlottesville, and the Virginia Film Festival will...
ESSAY- Blame game: Let's all stop pointing fingers
Published on Oct 25th, 2007
7 comments As we surge into yet another orgy of finger pointing, perhaps it's time to remember that the nature of humanity is to screw up. Yes, General David Petraeus has some debatable opinions. Yes, Hillary...
ESSAY- Secret wealth: It's in your skills and systems
Published on Oct 18th, 2007
0 comments A Mexican migrant to the U.S. is five times more productive than one who stays home. Why is that? The answer is not the obvious one, that this country has more machinery or tools or natural resources...
ESSAY- Dist<i>herb</i>ing: Rifle turns rage to reconcilation
Published on Oct 11th, 2007
0 comments "I have a gun, you know." The intruder dismisses me with a glance and goes back to helping himself to my property. We got the gun in June, husband Harry and I, and our son Jackson spent an afternoon...
ESSAY- Musical legacy: Lynyrd Skynyrd blessed my marriage
Published on Oct 4th, 2007
5 comments In a lodge of wood and stone up in the Rocky Mountains, my new wife held her bouquet of roses with both hands and asked, "Do we have to hear only Lynyrd Skynyrd songs at our wedding reception?" "Yes...
ESSAY- Bad mommy? Taking aim at Elizabeth Edwards a bad idea
Published on Sep 27th, 2007
0 comments Here we go again. Why is it always that women and their parenting, or alleged lack of it, get center stage in the tedious debate about kids and political campaigning? Where are the men in this...
ESSAY- College censors: Why they deserve a big fat 'F'
Published on Sep 20th, 2007
0 comments The one that got Grant Woolard yanked and two others that created less massive firestormsCAVALIER DAILY A few years back, when staffers at Baylor University's student newspaper published an...
ESSAY- Flocking together: Making unexpected intruders welcome
Published on Sep 13th, 2007
0 comments We were worried, my sisters and I, about leaving the house vacant. What if burglars came in the night and walked off with our family treasures? In the midst of this worry, we received a report of a...