Previous month:
May 2006
Next month:
July 2006

June 30, 2006


BOSTON -- Today is my last official day as a full-time employee of The Kansas City Star. After nearly 36 years of working there, I'm taking formal retirement. (The first picture here? Hang on, I'll get to it.)

BillrockyAnd I'm not even in the office for the final hours. I'm here in Boston attending the annual conference of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, which I once served as president.

My decision to knock off full-time work doesn't mean you won't be hearing from me anymore, however. I will continue writing a weekly column in our Faith section on a freelance basis. I also will continue writing this blog. So you haven't seen the last of Tammeus yet. (Hold the jeers.) Besides, I'm working on some book projects you eventually may want to read (assuming you already have read my 2001 book, A Gift of Meaning. If not, go buy a couple dozen copies; I'll wait).

A regular e-mail correspondent recently wrote to me to say of himselt that he hopes people "will not only recognize my preposterous limitations but occasional lucidities as well." That, it turns out, has been my own hope as a columnist for all these years, the last couple of which I've worked in the space you see pictured here to the right.Wdtstar1

Just about the only qualification one needs to be a columnist is the ability to make people think. We columnists do that despite our preposterous limitations. We do that in all kinds of ways, too: By making readers angry, sad, happy, curious, upset, joyful and even forlorn. Over the years, readers have told me they have experienced all those emotions reading my words and, beyond that, some have actually learned something from what I've written, apparently because of my occasional lucidities.

But my lucidities have been much less frequent than I'd have liked. They have, however, happened, and for that I'm eternally grateful to the source of such lucidities, the patient God who loves me in spite of myself.

I came to The Star in September 1970 from the now-defunct afternoon newspaper in Rochester, N.Y., the Times-Union, where I went to work in 1967 after I had graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. On my first day on the job in KC I wore a preposterous green suit with a vest. Editors gave me the next day off. Not because they hated the suit (they had no sartorial taste, either) but because nearly all of us had to work on Saturdays, so we were granted one day off in the week, and my day off for the early years turned out to be Tuesday.

I covered countless stories in those early years, from obits to page 1 investigative matters. My "beat," if I could be said to have one, was urban affairs, which meant race relations, poverty, housing -- all the things that were tearing at the heart of our great cities. And almost every workday (except when I'd slip in a side door), I'd walk into the office through the door you see pictured here. (That's our publisher, Mac Tully, heading up the steps. He still has to do that. I don't.)

Wdtstar6Maybe my best contribution to understanding all of that urban dynamics stuff came in some series of articles I did in 1975, as I recall. In the first series, I helped to show that about 50 square miles of our inner city had been, in effect, redlined by traditional mortgage lenders. Home buyers in those areas simply could not get the kind of traditional 30-year conventional mortgages that were the engine for suburban growth.

In another series, I described the various ad hoc, jury-rigged ways that -- given the lack of conventional mortgages -- inner city property changed hands, ways that helped to deteriorate the city even further. And in another series I wrote about how one square block in the inner city turned from mostly white residents to mostly black. I described that house by house, sad story by sad story. I think it opened some eyes.

I spent much of 1976 traveling and covering national politics, particularly the surprising rise of Jimmy Carter. I spent time in Plains, Ga., that year and traveled some with him in other parts of the country. In addition, I was assigned to cover him at the Democratic convention that summer in New York City. The day after the convention ended -- and on about three hours of sleep -- I flew from New York to Washington, D.C., to interview Vice President Nelson Rockefeller for a piece I was doing to appear in a special section related to the Republican National Convention that year in Kansas City, an event I also helped to cover. (You've probably figured out by now that the picture up top here is of me in Rocky's office with him. You like the hair? Mine, not Rocky's.)

When that year ended -- after additional travel to cover politics in such places as California and North Carolina -- I was ready for something different. I just didn't know what.

Then in February 1977, Bill Vaughan, the Starbeams columnist, died at the tender age of 61, my age now. I was assigned to write his obituary. In the process, I re-learned that Starbeams was the oldest continuously published column in the United States. So I proposed that we not let it die. Editors pondered my suggestion, wondering who in the world could take over from Vaughan, a widely recognized comic genius. I suggested they give me a shot, and they agreed, saying that in six months we'd re-evaluate. My first Starbeams column appeared in May 1977 and I wrote the column for more than 25 years. I guess they never had time to re-evaluate.

Starbeams was a daily column of epigrams -- quick one-liners, mostly about the news of the day. I made it quite political and took shots at everyone, left, right and center. But I also made it about our everyday lives.

Once, after a big snow storm, for instance, I wrote a line that went something like this: Snowflakes are like pretty little girls, delicate and lovely to look at -- until you get too many of them in the same place at the same time.

As time moved along, I was encouraged (by the late Joe McGuff and the late Jim Scott, among others) to start writing longer narrative columns, either humorous or serious. So I did -- on no particular schedule at first and then on a regular rotation. For many years I wrote an average of five and a half columns a week -- five Starbeams columns (one or two of which were humorus narratives) plus an every-other-Sunday column, which tended to be more serious.

Often in those Sunday columns I would look at the world through my theological lenses, so to speak, and would tackle some of life's eternal questions by focusing on events in the news or things I myself was experiencing.

Eventually Rich Hood, then editorial page editor, asked me to write regularly about religious affairs in our unsigned editorials and to feel free to develop some of those thoughts further in columns. So my last eight or 10 years on the editorial page found me writing a fair number of columns with some kind of spiritual content.

All the while I continued to gripe to various editors about our failure to devote enough resources to news coverage of religion and ethics. For years we depended solely on Helen T. Gray, our religion editor, to cover it all. I love Helen to death and she has always done her best, but asking one person to cover religion is like asking one person to be the sports department at a major metropolitan paper. So eventually I was asked to move my column to the Faith section and to focus my non-column work on this area for stories that might appear on page A-1, in the local news section, in the Faith section, in the lifestyle section or anywhere else.

That meant that in March 2004 I made that move, even though I had thought about taking retirement at age 60, which I reached in January 2005. But I promised Star Editor Mark Zieman at least a year beyond that date, and I have given him a year and a half.

It's been a wonderful run. (Speaking of runs, there goes the last bus I rode home after my almost-last day at work the other day.)

Wdtstar9In the early 1990s I started to maintain a list of cities out of which I have datelined -- that is, from which I wrote stories or columns. The list is woefully incomplete because it misses more than 20 years of my career, but at last count the list contained more than 140 cities, from Aix-en-Provence, France, to Cairo, from Chapel Hill, N.C., to Grand Lake, Colo., from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to Paris, from San Diego to Tucson and from West, Texas, to Woodstock -- both the one in Illinois, my hometown, and the one in Vermont, near where my wife grew up.

While I was doing all of that, I also became active in the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, an upstart organization that was pretty disorganized. About 1989 or 1990, I attended my first of the NSNC's annual conventions and learned, after I got back home from having to leave early, that I had been elected vice president.

So when I became president two years later, I decided we needed to have actual bylaws and some kind of structure and that we should do more to improve the professionalism of columnists -- without losing wonderfully wacky feel of the NSNC. Surprisingly, that's pretty much what has happened. So at this year's gathering in Boston we have lots of panel discussions and outside speakers and the kind of thing you're likely to find at true professional organizations. Amazing, because organizing columnists is like herding worms.

But as time has moved along, I've found myself frustrated at not having time to do all the non-work things I also want to be doing. And not having enough time just to put on my Chuck Taylors (I have red, yellow and blue, not the pink ones shown here) and park and read.

ConverseAs I said, I've got two or three book projects in mind, at least one of which is in the works. I've also got four grandchildren, all of whom live near my wife and me, and I don't get to spend enough time with them. Besides, there are volunteer things I want to do, golf I want to play, books I want to read. Plus lots of travel, church work and re-learning how to play the oboe. Not to mention all the boxes in the basement that need to be sorted through so that when I buy the farm my children won't have to deal with the disorganized mess that faced my sisters and me when our parents died.

In other words, I don't have time to work full-time any more, despite the wondeful people I've been privileged to work for.

But please keep reading my blog and my weekly column. I'll let you know when I get too busy even to do those.

To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here. (My column tomorrow, by the way, will list some worthwhile faith-based books -- and I'll use the blog this weekend to extend that list.)

June 29, 2006


What are the religious connotations in this Sunday's election of a new president of Mexico? Maybe quite a few, argues this commentator, who says it could lead to "messianic populism." Say, what? Well, take a look at the piece and see if you would be concerned -- or hopeful -- as a citizen of Mexico.

* * *


On this date (or maybe June 30 -- there's a little confusion) in 1968, Pope Paul VI (pictured here) issued a statement of faith called "Creed for the People of God." It's also known as "Credo of the People of God."

Paul_viWhatever it's called and whatever day it was issued on, it was meant to be a contemporary confession of Catholic faith.

I suspect, however, that most Catholics today either don't know about it or couldn't recite much of anything from it. These statements of faith tend to create a historical record of how the faith is expressed in a particular time and place, but often they don't get used much and eventually are largerly forgotten.

Well, there are exceptions, such as the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed, which get used quite a bit in Christian churches.

What I invite you to think about today is whether formal statements describing what your religion believes have much staying power with you or whether you view them as so many words in a world full of words.

In my Presbyterian tradition, we tend to take such statements pretty seriously in that we have published a dozen or more such statements in a book, the Book of Confessions, and we call that book the other part of our church's constitution, along with the Book of Order.

My favorite of the confessions in that book is the Theological Declaration of Barmen, written in 1934 by people in Germany trying to stand against the Nazis and their efforts to neutralize the church -- efforts that largely succeeded.

I'd be interested in the reaction of any of you who are Catholic to Paul VI's statement and how it reads today. If you had to rewrite it for today, what would you change? And what do you think he might change?

To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here.

Today's religious holiday: Feast Day of Saints Peter and Paul (Christian).

June 28, 2006


Have you been wondering in this World Cup time how soccer became a worldwide religion? Click here for some thoughts from the perspective of a citizen of India, where I learned to play soccer as a boy, though we called it football. Is this what the Ten Commandments is referring to when God says there to have "no other gods"?

* * *


The Catholic Church in the U.S. is seeking a more prominent place in the media.

Sirius_logoSo it has worked out an agreement with Sirius satellite radio to create the Catholic Channel, which will be launched this fall.

The 24-hour a day, seven-days-a-week channel on the subscriber radio service will even feature regular appearances by Cardinal Edward M. Egan, archbishop of New York.

Listeners can even hear daily Mass from St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. But apparently the idea will be to rely a lot on a talk-show format.

It won't surprise you, probably, to learn that this is not the church's first effort to reach out to people through radio. Already such networks as EWTN are available for radio listeners. In fact, for a fairly crowdy list of Catholic radio offerings, click here.

But free radio is a little different from satellite subscriber-paid radio, so it will be interesting to see how the church does in this new format.

When Jesus said go into all the world and preach the gospel, you have to wonder whether he had satellite radio in mind.

To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here.

P.S.: In response to yesterday's entry here about the recent death of William Sloane Coffin, a helpful and well-versed reader (well, that describes most of you, I'm learning) left a link to a story about the death in May of another great churchman, Jaroslav Pelikan, author of many important and insightful books. If you missed that link, click here. In fact, in my column this coming Saturday, I plan to mention a new book by Pelikan.

June 27, 2006


It's been interesting to watch the different style that Benedict XVI has brought to the papacy. For one, he's not been quite the world jet-setter of the late Pope John Paul II. At least not so far. But Beneduct has traveled some and plans to travel more. In fact, the Vatican just announced he'll be heading back to his native Germany in early September. Maybe in this high-tech age, such religious leaders don't need to travel as much but so far we haven't seen Benedict's blog and we aren't aware of him hosting a daily radio or TV talk show. Should he?

* * *


I have been remiss in saying little or nothing about the death in April of William Sloane Coffin Jr., (pictured here) pastor, author, speaker and activist.

CoffinI felt my failure particularly when my copy of the current Harper's magazine arrived and I read Lewis H. Lapham's essay on Coffin, called "Class Act."

It was full of wonderful insights about the man and it offered some great quotes from him, such as what, when he was chaplain of Yale University, he said to the freshman class entering in 1959: "The Lord forbids our using our education merely to buy our way into middle-class security." Or this: "Those who fear disorder more than injustice invariably produce more of both." Or this: "Nationalism, at the expense of another nation, is just as wicked as racism at the expense of another race."

I met Coffin once when he came to Kansas City about the time of the start of the Gulf War. He met with our editorial board, on which I then served, and told us how he and many Americans were at that time people of divided hearts, wanting to rebuke Saddam Hussein's aggression against Kuwait but wishing to avoid war because of the inevitable pain and loss it would produce.

I admired his willingness to be honest about life's complexities.

Lapham's tribute to Coffin is not available at the Harper's online site now, but it's worth finding and reading. I don't always agree with Lapham. At times I find him too strident and cynical. But I read him faithfully because he thinks and he makes me think.

So a late farewell today to the Rev. William Sloane Coffin, whose big shoes have yet to be filled.

To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here.

June 26, 2006


At least a little of the reaction to a new Presbyterian Church (USA) report on the Trinity has been harsh, and I think not quite fair. Click here for a story about that. I mentioned here over the weekend that the report seemed to leave some people puzzled. I think that may have arisen from the assumption that the Presbyterians (I am one) are abandoning the traditional Father-Son-Holy Spirit language. Not so. In fact, the just-completed General Assembly, in receiving this report, mandated that the traditional Father-Son-Spirit language continue to be used in the sacrament of Baptism, though other language can be explored for other purposes. To repeat myself, all of this goes to the reality that we have no adequate language to talk about God. All language is insufficient and all language is merely metaphor. So before you make too much fun of the Presbyterian document, you might actually want to read it. One reason is that some of the secular reporting on it has been misleading. The report does not, as an Episcopal friend suggested to me recently, mean we're going to start calling the Trinity "Rock, Paper and Scissors." And it does not  mean, as a Catholic friend suggested to me, that all the theologians in Calvin-land are out to lunch.

* * *


The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is taking a needed an important step to improve relations between Christians and Muslims.

JerusalemIts Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago is starting a Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice. The center's first conference will be Sept. 21-23 at the seminary and the Chicago Cultural Center. One of the center's goals will be to help Lutheran seminary students better understand faith traditions beyond their own because inevitably in this time of religious change in America they will do ministry in places where faiths other than Christianity are part of the picture.

The center also will work with the ELCA to create a Muslim-Christian panel like the panel the ELCA has on Lutheran-Jewish relations.

Regular readers of this blog know I'm a strong proponent of interfaith dialogue -- not so that members of one faith can try to convert people to their religion or even their viewpoint but so that each of us can know and be known in ways that reduce the chance for misunderstanding. For misunderstanding leads to mistrust, and mistrust can lead to nothing but trouble in a world already aflame with religious violence.

Do you know what your own faith communities are doing to improve Christian-Muslim relations or, indeed, relations with all other religions?

To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here.

June 24-25, 2006, weekend


Just before heading to the Vatican for a visit with the pope, the president of the Philippines signed a law that abolished capital punishment because she felt she had to "yield to the high moral imperative dictated by God." I've always been against the death penalty and am glad to see it abolished anywhere, but are you, like me, a little uncomfortable with politicians who say they are sure they are doing God's will?

* * *


When folks in my denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA), last week accepted a paper calling for new ways to describe the Trinity, it left lots of folks scratching their heads. Click here for one report about that. Maybe it's just proof that all language purporting to describe God is inadequate.

* * *


Many of the stories of the changing demographics of religion in America in recent years have focused on the ways that Muslims, Hindus and others have been seeking their place in our culture.

JewishsymbolsBut The New York Times recently reported from Wal-Mart's hometown of Bentonville, Ark., that Jews in America still sometimes have to find their place in a predominantly Christian context.

In this northwest county of Arkansas, The Times reported, there are 39 Baptist, 27 United Methodist and 20 Assembly of God churches. But now Jewish Wal-Mart executives have been arriving from the northeast and other East Coast areas, and are beginning to make a difference.

The Jewish population of the U.S. (depending on who is counting) usually is put now in the 4 million range. Spread among nearly 300 million people, that's not very many. So historically they've tended to cluster in certain areas. But wherever they are, they've had to negotiate their place in a country where Christianity always has been the dominant religion.

As regular readers of this blog know, I've spent a chunk of this past year studying the long and shameful history of anti-Judaism in Christianity. So Jews in a predominantly Christian population understand that they are dealing with a faith that has often been unfriendly (to say the least) toward them.

The Times in this case has done the kind of reporting the mainstream media should do more of -- help us understand how different faiths in our growing pluralistic society are learning to live with each other.

To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here. (My Saturday column is about faith and families and was written from a family reunion I attended in Wenona, Ill.)

Today's religious holiday: St. John the Baptist (Christian; 24th).

June 23, 2006


The response this week by the Episcopal Church to the worldwide Anglican Communion over its concerns about the election of an American gay bishop gives us a chance to see the various ways different media outlets covered this complex story. Here are some samples: Reuters; the Australian; the Associated Press; the Houston Chronicle; the New York Times; the Guardian. If you have some thoughts about accuracy, fairness, completeness and possible bias, let me know. I certainly saw problems in some of the news stories I read about this week's decision by the Presbyterian Church (USA) to give regional ordaining bodies a little more leeway in applying standards that require candidates for ordination to be faithful in marriage (one man, one woman) or chaste in singleness. Lots of nuances were missed.

* * *


No doubt you've all seen Christian television programming of many types, from church services to various programs on dedicated Christian cable networks.

ShalomtvBut when was the last time you watched Jewish TV?

The Comcast cable company is about to launch a national Jewish channel, Shalom TV (not to be confused with Shalom Television, a Christian operation). Shalom TV will be a subscription ($7.99 a month) video-on-demand service that will allow viewers to see 50 hours of programming each month -- and give them the option of pausing, rewinding and replaying all they want.

Shalom TV will be offered first in southeastern Pennsylvania and northern Delaware starting Aug. 30. Its producers hope to take it to other areas of the country in the months ahead.

The channel's CEO is Rabbi Mark S. Golub, who has been involved in various aspects of Jewish media for almost 40 years. His idea is for Shalom TV to be a Jewish cultural channel, not a voice for any of the major branches of Judaism. So in that sense it won't be a religious channel.

Programming is expected to include Jewish movies and Israeli films, English-language news from Israel, panel discussions, lectures, performances, children's shows, cooking, travel, history and more.

"We like to say that the world has been waiting some 5,700 years for Jewish television," Golub says.

But if you're not in the Pennsylvania and Delaware areas, you're going to have to wait a little longer.

To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here. (My column tomorrow will be about the connection between blood relatives and families of faith, written from Wenona, Ill.)

Today's religious holiday: Sacred Heart of Jesus (Catholic Christian).

P.S.: A few weeks ago I wrote here about Rick Warren, the evangelical star, being invited to preach at a synagogue. Now Warren has invited a leader from that synagogue, Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, to participate in worship at Warren's southern California church this Sunday. I haven't seen any stories about what Warren said when he spoke to the synagogue, but if you sign up at, there's a video available.

June 22, 2006


Several weeks ago, I did a long interview, published in The Kansas City Star, with the imam of one of the largest mosques in the U.S., Hassan Qazwini of the Islamic Center of America near Detroit. As we spoke, he told me about his worries for his father, also an imam, who recently left the U.S. to return to their native Iraq. His father, now 75, had been an outspoken opponent of Saddam Hussein. Recently assassins tried to kill his father. Click here for the Detroit News story about this. Speaking out as a person of faith can bring with it a high cost. It makes me wonder how brave each of us might be.

* * *


If you had a whole bunch of money that you didn't need to put groceries on your family's table, would you give it to your faith community?

AndersonStanley Anderson did. The Denver Presbyterian (pictured here) recently gave $150 million to the Presbyterian Church (USA), which as most of you know is the denomination to which my own congregation belongs.

The money is to be used to start new congregations in this declining Mainline Protestant denomination. It's also to be used to reinvigorate struggling congregations and to find ways to attract racial and ethnic minorities to the church.

If I were in charge of this money,  I think I'd put it in the bank for at least six months and then spend that time drawing together the best minds I could find to develop a cohesive plan for ways to use the money that will be effective. This is a lot of money and could have a big effect on the denomination's future, but it will be easy to misspend it, thus missing a wonderful opportunity.

I suppose if I gave a big chunk of money to my church, I'd be tempted to want to have a big say in how it's used. The truly generous thing to do would be to assume that maybe I don't have all the great ideas. So, again, I'd try to draw in some help to imagine the best way to use the funds that would please God.

Anderson, who came from a poor family, made his money in the banking and financial services industry. He said he had become discouraged by the steady loss of membership in the denomination. A few years ago, I attended worship at Anderson's church, Central Presbyterian in Denver. To my knowledge, I didn't meet him, but if I ever get back to the church, I would do my best to say a personal word of thanks to him.

A few days after the gift was announced, doubt was cast on Anderson's ability to make good on the pledge. A story in the Denver Post raised questions, causing Presbyterian officials to talk at length with Anderson. A statement issued by a church official expresses confidence that the money will be forthcoming.

Anderson's gift sort of ruins a running joke I sometimes tell: That I'm a Presbyterian but I'm saving up to become an Episcopalian.

To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here.

June 21, 2006


Where is the line between free speech and government endorsement of a particular religion? Did a student cross it in Las Vegas in a graduation speech? And were school officials right to cut her off when she departed from a pre-approved text? How would you have handled it. And why? Click here for a fuller account of the story. And click here for a Baptist Press story about what the student had to say about all of this yesterday.

* * *


In stories, columns and blog entries over the last couple of years, I've written about some changes in the world of Christian evangelicals.

PageThey've been putting more emphasis on such issues as poverty and environmentalism. They've even become more active in AIDS ministry and in efforts to stop torture of prisoners.

Now, Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, sees the recent election of the new head of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Rev. Frank Page (pictured here), as more evidence that the evangelical world is losing some of its harshest edges.

I'm not sure the SBC election is quite as significant as Dionne thinks it is, but I do think it is more evidence of the breadth and depth of the evangelical movement. This is not a monolithic group. Rather, it's made up of people with a wide variety of approaches to life, especially political life.

It's another example of labels hiding more than they reveal. I've said that before and no doubt I'll say it again, because I think it's not only true, but that if we paid more attention to that truth, we wouldn't categorize people and write them off, thinking we know all about them.

Believe it or not, even King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia agrees with me about that, and said so recently.

To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here.

Today's religious holidays: First Nations Day (Canadian Native People); Litha Summer Solstice (Wicca/Neo Pagan, northern hemisphere); Yule (Wicca/Neo Pagan, southern hemisphere)

June 20, 2006


There's already talk of a permanent rupture in the Anglican Communion because the Episcopal Church USA just elected a female presiding bishop. Click here for a profile of that new bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, who is, by the way, a graduate of the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, the Web site of which has a note congratulating her.

* * *


How would you like to attend a virtual church?

VirtualchurchNow you can. St. Pixels. Really.

Well, it's sort of a British deal, but why does it matter where you are if it's an online deal? You're right. It doesn't.

Here's the story: The church went online two years ago as an experiment of the Christian webzine called And now it's ready to go full-time under the sponsorship of the Methodist Church of Great Britain.

In the summer of 2004, spent several months trying out the online church idea. People logged on and, when they did, they became cartoon characters who could be seen and sort of heard through the use of speech bubbles. They sang hymns, listened to sermons and prayed.

The pilot project proved very popular, at one point attracting 41,000 log-in attempts in one day and an average of more than 7,300 per day. Even more interesting, more than half the visitors were under age 30 and about 60 percent were male.

"The church created a space on the Internet where people could join others in worship and become involved in a new form of Christian community," said Simon Jenkins, editor.

That experiment closed in September 2004, but the people who had been active in the church found ways of using chat rooms and bulletin boards to stay connected. Now St. Pixels has reopened.

In my view, ultimately it's important for members of congregations to be present to one another in person. But that doesn't mean this kind of experiment isn't worth trying. It could encourage people to try other, more traditional, forms of church. And in the meantime it clearly is evidence of the kind of spiritual hunger out there that's not being met in other ways.

To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here.

And a semi-private PS today: Happy fourth birthday to my oldest grandchild, Olivia. I was in Egypt when she was born and missed the first 10 days of her life. I've been trying to catch up ever since.