Still not caught up, but a couple of things.

1. Last week in responding to a suggestion for sea scallops and correcting my spelling of haricot vert, I said, ‘Chacon a son gout.’

Tom: ‘I’m sure I’m the thousandth person to point this out, but you misspelled chacun too. But I’ll forgive you…you were undoubtedly thinking about the Baroque musical form chaconne and got confused.’

☞ Undoubtedly. (You know the old saying: ‘If it ain’t Baroque . . .’) But actually, what’s fun about the Internet is that, in checking things like this, you can usually find tons of web sites that misspell it just as you have, leading you to think you got it right. That, and my love of chaconne, are what led me astray.

Aaron Stevens: ‘Chaqu’un a son gout.’

2. Yesterday, I raised the topic of tugging jets back from their gates.

Dale McConnell: ‘I remember reading an article several years ago in Car and Driver about what a big deal it is to move planes around. They actually tested a super tug that avoided some of the same costs that the electric motor you talked about today avoids. Click here to read it.’

3. And as if that weren’t enough to fill your day, here is a column from the San Francisco Chronicle:

We barely recognize each other
By Joan Ryan
Thursday, November 4, 2004

Like others in the Bay Area, I was huddled with friends around the television set Tuesday night, my son pressing a blue-donkey or red-elephant sticker on each state as the returns rolled in. As we held out hope for Ohio, one friend related a story that, in retrospect, helped me understand Bush’s convincing victory as well as any I have heard.

A young man, my friend said, was walking door to door on her street a few weeks ago to raise money for the Kerry-Edwards ticket. When he knocked on the door of one house, the owner responded to the young man in a huff.

“I’m a Republican!” she said. “Didn’t you see my flag?”

That, in the end, is what it boiled down to.

Somehow, as Bush and his party cut taxes to the rich, sent young Americans to their deaths in a war based on untruths (and managed with stunning incompetence), reneged on its financial commitment to education, and plunged the nation into crushing debt, they became symbols of morality and patriotism. They sold themselves as the party of God and country, offering comfort to people who wouldn’t need comforting if the Bush administration had not created the very problems for which it then offered spiritual refuge.

Give them credit. They are like PG&E nabbing the candle concession for a blackout the company caused itself.

It is a confounding time to live in a place like the Bay Area. Watching the returns Tuesday night, and listening to voters across the country, I saw that John Edwards was right about the two Americas. But the two Americas are not divided by money but by belief systems that have drifted so far apart we barely recognize each other anymore.

In exit polls Tuesday, morals topped the list of voter concerns, and an overwhelming majority believed Bush is more moral than Kerry. Thus the resounding victory for the incumbent.

Here in the Bay Area, we, too, place a high priority on values and morality. But clearly, many of us define morality differently from much of America. It is not about church membership. The evidence of morality is in one’s actions, not one’s Sunday-morning rituals. Morality means more than prayer and more than proclaiming a personal relationship with God.

It is social as well as religious. Is it moral to wage war on a country that did not attack us, and to wage it on false pretenses? Is it moral to stuff more money into the pockets of the wealthy while teachers buy their own crayons and patch their own classroom walls, and while people with mental illness live on the streets and in prison cells for lack of services?

Is it moral to deny two people the joy of committing their lives to one another in marriage? Is it moral to prevent scientists from pursuing cures to devastating diseases because of our leaders’ personal religious convictions?

Our country has always included a mix of religious and political beliefs. But we shared a foundation of certain “truths to be self-evident” that allowed us to meet on common ground. Today, I don’t know. Our belief systems – – what is right and wrong, what is patriotic and what is not, what is truth and what is not — are so different and so dramatically shape how we interpret news and information that we seem no longer to be living within the same culture.

I can’t for the life of me, for instance, figure out how anyone could watch those three presidential debates and even entertain the thought that Bush is qualified to lead the free world.

I am puzzled, too, by the reaction to the bin Laden tape. When bin Laden showed up on a video just days before the election, I figured it would remind Americans that Bush had yet to capture the man responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks, that he got us sidetracked in Iraq, which had nothing to do with Sept. 11. Instead, the tape seemed to deepen many Americans’ belief that … what? Bush is doing such a good job on terrorism that we should renew his contract?

Some have suggested that the Democratic Party needs to reconnect with middle America and its values, that we should take a page from the Republican playbook and talk more about God and faith. Yes, the Democrats need to revamp their strategy. But I would hate to think we would try to win next time around by emulating politicians who get away with destructive and amoral acts by passing them off as directives from God.

Faith and flags won this election. But I haven’t lost my belief in another f-word — facts. They’re bound to come back into fashion sooner or later.

E-mail Joan Ryan at joanryan@sfchronicle.com.

 

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