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The observer, March 5


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Circling the track at a fitness center Sunday, I noticed ahead a red shirt with black lettering touting the Red Wolves. It was noteworthy. Times haven't been so good for Arkansas State University. This was the first T-shirt The Observer has seen with the college's new team name, adopted after years of dispute over the Indian mascot.

In time, The Observer drew even with the ASU booster and was surprised to see the shirt didn't tout the Arkansas State University Red Wolves, but the Amagon State University Red Wolves. Amagon?

Aerobics done, The Observer caught up with his fellow walker for the explanation. Yes, she was an employee of Gov. Mike Beebe, a graduate of ASU (the Arkansas one) and a native of the other (Amagon, a small community near Newport). It seems the shirts were made up for an office softball game. The Amagon Red Wolves did well.


Even in this strange digital age, being a reporter still means having a good supply of ink pens on hand. There is something comforting in having one close by, knowing you're ready to pounce on the news no matter where it happens. No paper? Write on your forearm. But you've got to have the instrument to make the mark.

Inevitably, keeping an ink pen on your person at all times leads to the scourge of all who scribble: the leaking ink pen. Since starting work at the Arkansas Times seven short years ago, The Observer has rarely been without a writing instrument — rolling around in a coat pocket; clipped to the collar of a shirt; stuck in a pants pocket; shoved behind an ear. Some of those pens have made their way into the laundry basket over the years. Thankfully, however, they have all been caught in the nick of time; some of them mere seconds before wreaking inky havoc on our duds.

All, except the one that made it into the dryer on Sunday night.

When the dryer door was opened, it was about the Hot Mess in there you might expect. Who knew that so much destruction could squirt out of a pen (insert your own crack about The Observer's writing prowess here)? Though our stock of doublewide polo shirts took the brunt, the entire clan lost something close to their heart in the spray: Junior, his favorite red sweater; Spouse, a lovely wine-colored blouse and a pair of dove gray pants. All came out of the spin cycle looking like they were infected with the Black Death, each a little more hideous than the last.

There was no joy in the Observatory that night, we can tell you. By the time Spouse had scrubbed the black scourge out of the crevices of the dryer, her head poked deep into the dark maw of the machine like she was trying to find a tunnel to a different dimension in there, she wasn't too happy with Yours Truly. Right there in the laundry room, with Mr. Clean mocking us from his bottle, our lovely bride pointed a blackened finger at us and threatened The Observer's wretched little life if another ink pen ever made it into the drink.

We think we'll switch to pencils.


The Observer went to Science Cafe last week to hear professorial types talk about Charles Darwin. Science Cafe is a monthly event in which experts talk about everything from, taken from this year's schedule, ecotourism to obesity.

You'd think you could go to a talk about Charles Darwin and find a seat. But you'd be wrong. The Observer and several other would-be cafe-goers had to stand in the foyer of the Afterthought because the place was packed and no one wanted the fire marshal to come down on them.

Many of the folks in the bar, none of them having the slightest problem with the earth being older than 7,000 years or the evidence that our ancestors had brow ridges, asked the panelists what they say to students who don't accept evolution. A UCA biologist responded that he tells his students he doesn't “believe” in evolution, either. “It's not a belief system,” he said, it's science. Strangely, half the country doesn't get it.

Another professor noted that where he's from — New Zealand — evolution is no big deal. Drinking isn't considered sinful there either, he noted, and wondered whether there was a connection.

Certainly no one at the Afterthought had a problem with the notion that things evolve. Drinking either, for that matter.

Next up: Physics: Light and Sound, 7 p.m. March 24. Get there early if you want a seat.






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