The Tennessee Gubernatorial Debate

We are screwed. No matter who wins, we are screwed. I’m glad I had already decided that I couldn’t, in good conscience, vote for McWherter, because otherwise, tonight would have been heartbreaking. He actually said he doesn’t believe mosques should be allowed to go into neighborhoods. One wonders what other sorts of religious buildings shouldn’t go into neighborhoods. Or is it just the Muslims who we’re going to ask to meet next to the city dump?

He tried to walk back his asinine Arizona press-release. And he said some crap about teaching evolution in school and I couldn’t make heads or tails of whether he thought it was a good idea or not.

Everyone managed to make Haslam look like he was hiding something. Before the debate, I have to tell you, I was squarely in the “I don’t give a shit about tax returns” camp, but he was so weird about it that it made me start to wonder. Which is not good.

Ramsey, bless his heart, came across like Yosemite Sam. Every time he answered a question, I said “Pew pew. Pew pew” to myself and imagined him with tiny pistols to shoot. He became less irrationally insane as the evening wore on, while Wamp, who spent the first 25 minutes making me doubt my impression of him as Tennessee’s angriest gubernatorial candidate, became increasingly more irrational and intense.

It’s funny, because Wamp remains dogged by rumors of his drug-using past, but this evening suggested something more disturbing. That’s just how he is.

If I had to score them, I’d give Ramsey a solid F, swinging up to an F+ by the end of the evening. Wamp got a C- which plummeted down to an F+ by the end of the evening. Haslam got a solid C- and McWherter got a C/C-, just a hair above Haslam because Haslam seemed duplicitous.

Edited to add: JR Lind quotes McWherter.

“I think there’s a place to talk about evolution in our public schools, but I prefer a more traditional curriculum. We can blend science and religion in that regard. The two do not have to contradict each other,” he said.

It is really past time for us to start insisting on the teaching of other religions’ creation stories in science class. Let’s just have one day where we have a polytheistic take on how the world started and pass that off as “science” and watch the jaws drop.

Under the Hydrangea

I have lots of thoughts on crap, but I’ve reached the point in the summer where I’m just not that excited about being political. Which sucks for Pith! Ha, no, I promise, I will come up with something to write over there other than park reviews.

Here’s what I want to tell you. Yesterday, I went out and started to trim my hydrangea. I say “started” because, by the end, it was too hot to figure out the logistics of how I was going to get to the back third without actually climbing in the hydrangea (though it is now obvious, out of the heat, that the way to do it is indeed to climb into the hydrangea). But trimming the hydrangea was amazing. Here you are, out in the hot sun and you have to break through the green canopy of hydrangea leaves, which lap at your face like big horse tongues, and get into the middle of the plant, so you can see what’s dead and needs to be removed and make some decisions about what greenery needs to leave (I am trying the “trim the hydrangea like a nandina” technique, where you cut a quarter of the green stuff  down as low as you can reach to force the plant to regenerate, which has worked wonders for my nandina).

In the hydrangea, there are years and years of dead stubs clumped together in the middle of each plant, poking up at you. And the greenery, which, from the outside, seems so thick, is nothing compared to the years of dead stubs. I felt like I was communing with something very old.

I admit, especially when I’m weeding or trimming or things I think might unsettle the plants, I talk to them.

So, I talked to the hydrangea about how cool it was going to be next year, with all the blooms, now that they’ve been trimmed properly. I told them how much better they looked, more airy, with the initial trimming done and I looked under them, and saw that the dirt at their roots is all compacted and I considered, out loud, what I could do about that that wouldn’t risk disturbing their roots. Maybe not much except try to make it more hospitable for worms under there. I’m not sure.

When I was little, I was all the time climbing under plants. A good evergreen with foliage that came clear down to the ground, or just through the vegetable garden to check out the bugs. Heck, even in grad school, we would occasionally get under the magnolias. But even grad school has been years and years ago.

So, it was a treat to get under the hydrangea. It reminded me of how lucky we are in ways we forget to notice.