Archive for May 4th, 2009

My friend, John Fleck, the veteran Albuquerque Journal science writer, has introduced me to a couple of physicist pals of his who regularly take on the evolution debate, which of course always leads to a religion debate.

In today’s Times, Stanley Fish, writes an essay on a book by the British critic Terry Eagleton. It sounds to me like Eagleton does a pretty good job of describing what science can and can’t do; and what religion can and can’t do. The book is “Reason, Faith and Revolution.”

Here’s a small bit: ”

By theological questions, Eagleton means questions like, “Why is there anything in the first place?”, “Why what we do have is actually intelligible to us?” and “Where do our notions of explanation, regularity and intelligibility come from?”

The fact that science, liberal rationalism and economic calculation can not ask — never mind answer — such questions should not be held against them, for that is not what they do.

And, conversely, the fact that religion and theology cannot provide a technology for explaining how the material world works should not be held against them, either, for that is not what they do. When Christopher Hitchens declares that given the emergence of “the telescope and the microscope” religion “no longer offers an explanation of anything important,” Eagleton replies, “But Christianity was never meant to be an explanation of anything in the first place. It’s rather like saying that thanks to the electric toaster we can forget about Chekhov.”

It’s just a headline — Despite Recession, Fearful Brazilians Keep Armored Car Sales Booming. I suppose it’s a serious issue in Brazil, serious enough to buy that armored car if you can afford it, but not all headlines are created equal, and this one stopped me in my tracks. Here’s the link to the story if you want to read the whole thing.

If there is a better teller of America’s story than Dan Barry of The New York Times, I can’t imagine who it might be. He writes a column called This Land, traveling the country to tell its stories. Today it is a story of being sold out, a family who has sold Pontiacs since they first began in 1926. They talk about betrayal by GM. There will be no more Pontiacs to sell.

I’ve Twittered, I’ve Facebooked, I suppose I might as well Blog. I got together with Dave Thomas, a physicist who knows his way around a computer and we got the thing off the ground. I just now noticed that in my hurry to post something — anything — grammar took a dive (an apostrophe in the wild, floating around where it should not be). “Oh, well,” as my longtime friend, the late Tony Hillerman might say.

Speaking of Tony, the name of the blog — Tag End — is shamelessly stolen from him. He wrote once that the Sandia Mountains were the “tag end” of the Rockies. For some reason the phrase stuck in my head over the years. So Tag End it is.

Actually, I began experimenting with it some time ago, but I was working at the Journal then and didn’t feel too comfortable going off the reservation. Now, after working there for about 31 years and writing a column for 28 of them, I am “retired,” whatever that might mean and I no longer have a reservation to go off of.

What will the blog be? I’m not sure. That remains to be seen. A commentary here and there, I suppose. A few links to stories and essays that catch my eye. I’m forever sending these things to friends, so I might as well post them here and be done with it.

I’m still working on the basic nuts and bolts of the blog and much learning needs to be done. So you can expect many mistakes. I am, after all, something of a newbie.

Suggestions (without flames if possible) would be most welcome. If you have links to blogs you think I need to check out, send them. The blog roll is in its infancy.

All right, enough of the noodling around. I think I’ll start clicking on Blogger tabs and see what happens.