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The Observer Nov. 11

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The Observer, black and blue from daily blows landed by a national press that insists on calling the difference between us and the winning side on Election Day a matter of “moral values” (meaning, we suppose, that half the country is amoral, or immoral, and value nada), took a breather Saturday. It was in the form of a walk. We didn’t plan it; we ran into it, the Walk as One event of the National Conference of Christians and Jews. Several hundred people, stretching from the River Market to the Main Street Bridge, were walking down Markham in the afternoon. Marching friends — one with a collar even (he must not have gotten the word he lacked “moral values”) — summoned The Observer to cross the street and come walk with them. In front and behind, streams of people, some beating on drums, people in native dress of some sort. People in all colors, of course. A little girl skipped across the entire Main Street bridge to the beat of the drums up ahead. T-shirts urged fellowship. The Observer’s daughter, a teen for three months now, asked about what the NCCJ was needed for and we said something about ridding the world of hate. Suddenly she said, “You mean Christians and Jews used to hate each other?” Once, yes. Now the Christians can’t stand each other. “National Brotherhood Week, National Brotherhood Week, Lena Horne and Sheriff Clark are dancing cheek to cheek. Go up and shake the hand of someone you can’t stand …” That song is 40 years old. How many more years will The Observer’s daughter’s question stem not from just a child’s ignorance, but that of of succeeding generations? It’s not looking good, frankly. The Observer has been thinking about water lately. It started when we sought a bottle of water in a convenience store by Pinnacle Mountain. The Observer chose a cheap bottle, of unfamiliar make. Before we took a swig we read the small print: The source was Montgomery County. Over there in the Ouachitas, lots of springs there. But we read on: carbon filtered, micron filtered, UV light and ozonated. Jeepers! If you have to do all that to the water, what was in it in the first place? The FAQs on the product’s website did not address what it means to micron filter and ozonate one’s water. It did say it was collected from a “natural orifice” in the Ouachitas, which might mean anything, but in this case, the FAQ explains, means that it comes from “free-flowing springs” that pump out more than 500 gallons a minute. The company puts it in a sterile tanker, takes it to Louisiana and bottles it there. The FAQ boasts that the company holds a certificate of excellence from the International Bottled Water Association, which requires a minimum score of 97 percent on a sanitation audit. Well, OK. But frankly, we’d rather it just came out of the ground pure, requiring no filtering or zapping or sifting or whatever. Like the water that comes up in Hot Springs. Last week, The Observer showed two teen-agers the fountain on Central Avenue where hot spring water is piped up and out spigots that empty into a circular trough. Several people were at the fountain filling plastic milk jugs with the water. One man there said he’d lived all over the place, Las Vegas and Chicago, and every time he returned home he took some water back with him. Credited his long life to it. The girls put their hands in the hot water (147 degrees Fahrenheit) and shrank back, taking his word for the water’s goodness rather than test it themselves. That’s the way we like water. Real old — 4,000 years old, some say — and full of minerals, free of bat scat and other underground nastiness. Requiring no ozonation or sterile tankers but just a plastic milk jug. So what’s new? The Obser-ver’s 10-year-old niece asked, half an hour into the drive to The Observer’s brother’s Northeast Arkansas home. Well, we said, we’ve been kind of bummed about the election. “Me too,” our niece replied. The only good thing about a Bush victory, she said, was that in 2012 she’d get to vote whether to keep his successor. “But I already know I’m going to vote Democratic,” she said. Why? The Observer asked — not that we meant to argue. “Because,” said Niece, the child and step-child of certifiable Blues, “I get lots of good information about Democrats and lots of bad information about Republicans.” Well. Can’t argue with that line of reasoning. Honor thy father and mother, we’d say, if our own hadn’t voted for Bush.

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