Jimmy Buffett: A Pirate at 70. The musician’s buoyant new biography sings

By Jonathan Miles

I once stumped Jimmy Buffett by calling him a saint. This was many years ago, somewhere in Texas, when during an interview I offhandedly deemed him the patron saint of beach bars. With an easy, elfin laugh Buffett demurred, saying he’d been called a lot of things over the years—but never a saint. (“Commit a little mortal sin,” he once sang. “It’s good for the soul.”) I still stand, however, by my canonization of Saint Jimmy: patron saint of beachfront dives, for sure, but also hammocks, blenders, cabin cruisers, rum hangovers, flip-flops, tropical-print shirts, and the idyll of hedonistic inertia. Millions look to Buffett and his music for what can only be called spiritual guidance, watching his stage shows with that “spindrift gaze toward paradise,” to crib from Hart Crane, relying on Buffett to point the way.

Read review HERE

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Thoughts on Discipleship from a Marine Conservationist

As a deep lover of the ocean, I was intrigued that Christianity Today, the widely-respected evangelical magazine of record, posted a beautifully insightful article from Cara Daneel, a South African marine biologist. Here are a few paragraphs:

“Christians are not strangers to working with the complexities and resistances of the heart. Robert Sluka, a marine biologist working for the Christian conservation organization A Rocha, first introduced me to this synergy between environmental education and faith. Addressing a room full of secular conservation scientists in Cambridge, United Kingdom, he said, “In a way, you are evangelists too! You have a message you believe is important, knowledge you believe should change how people live, and you face obstacles as you try and help the people you are approaching.”

“As I’ve read about environmental education, I have been drawn to think of Jesus as the perfect teacher and changer of hearts. God fully entered into our context and gave us, by his love, the ultimate motivation to change our lives. Further, Jesus’ winsome example—his humility, compassion, and sacrifice—teach us how to reach out relationally to those around us. As a conservationist, this insight shapes my approach to community projects. As a Christian, it goes even further than this.”


“My time caring for just a tiny fraction of God’s world has helped me to praise him and challenged the way I had separated him from his creation,” she concludes. “Let us enjoy time in God’s presence through his works and declare our identities as children of the creator God by including stewardship issues in what we pray for and talk, sing, care, and preach about.”

To read the full article, click HERE.

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George Jones, sad songs, and country music

I was sitting at the bar in Tootsies Orchid Lounge in Nashville on the day of George Jones’ funeral. I was the guy sobbing and gripping on to a PBR for dear life. I’m not even a country nut; I’m a retro punker who fell in love with gut-wrenching honest music –  the kind of stuff Johnny Cash sang about: Love, God, and Murder.

Journalist Terry Mattingly pointed me in the direction of an essay by Rod Dreher about Sad Songs and the South. He was riffing off of Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast King of Tears about songwriter Bobby Braddock. Gladwell’s podcast is fascinating as it differentiates between country and rock music. I am eagerly wanting Gladwell to do a follow up on the connection between the southern blues and the West Virginian coal miners — they never had 4O1K’s, but they had audacious truth, they had dirt under the fingernails, they had a rag-tag community link that cared for widows and snot-nosed kids. They did wrong — but they knew it. They did not try to psychologize it away. They knew they were guilty – and in need of redemption.

In the South, the juke joints are packed and sweaty on Saturday night, but the altars are packed in the clapboard churches on Sunday morning — a realistic rhythm of life, sin and redemption all in one motion.

I like old country. The fearless honesty of country songs is the kind of self-revelation that gets a respectable man or woman fired from a job, but it is the kind of song that those same people listen to on a transistor radio while they are working in the garage or preparing supper.

Theologically, it is also the kind of Southern Protestant version of the confessional. There is no veil between the priest and the sinner. There is only a microphone and a heart laid bare. Bloody authenticity, the smoking gun, the shameful guilt, the fingerprinting at the jail — all out there for the world to see.

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An armada of good ol’ boys

Got a little emotional behind an armada of high water trucks and boats who are led by their better angels to help the stranded, wet, and hurting.

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Hurricane Harvey

There is no way to adequately describe the ferociousness of Harvey except catastrophic. Evacuees wade down a flooded section of Interstate 610 as floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey rise Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

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Remembering Michael Cromartie


With so many others, I am saddened to hear of the passing of a joyful old friend, Michael Cromartie. For a few years in the late 1980s, I worked as his research assistant in Washington D.C. It was a long time ago, but the memories are bright and cherished. All the nice things that people are saying were true – even back then. He had an infectious intellectual curiosity to go with that smile – and an unbounding desire for civil engagement about the consequential issues of life and great ethical debates. Whenever we’d conclude a colloquium, Mike would pull out two glasses and a bottle from his desk drawer and want to rehash the entire event as we sipped. He had a zest for the jousting of competing ideas. Although his profession was discussing big thoughts, his greatest love was reserved for his family and the Good Lord. My condolences to Jennifer, Ethan, Eric, and Heather. See ya on the other side of the Jordan, Mike.

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Heartbreaking Navy losses

Heartbreaking & unnecessary to lose these young Navy sailors.

ABC News: “While each of these four incidents is unique, they cannot be viewed in isolation,” said Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Analysts said the two latest accidents are especially sobering, especially at a moment when U.S. warships occasionally patrol the disputed South China Sea to the consternation of Beijing, and President Donald Trump has swapped threats with North Korea’s leader, putting nations across Asia on edge.


The Navy has ordered an “operational pause,” which Blaxland said makes sense “to explore what on Earth is happening.”

Though the investigation into the McCain collision has only just begun, analysts say there are many possible causes, including crew fatigue, command shortfallings, radar malfunctions, software glitches and even jammed signals that might have prevented the warship from detecting obstacles.

Read full article HERE

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Solar Eclipse elation

For my generation, The Jetson’s helped create a technological imagination of what could be. For a different generation, inebriated with gadgets, the Solar Eclipse helped create a cosmological wonder of what always has been.

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Kentucky College Students to Assist in NASA-Sponsored Eclipse Live-Stream Project

John Paul: “Inside the payload we have a very small constructed Arduino board that’s basically a tiny computer that makes the live streaming possible.”

Father’s Pride: My son John Paul Beard is mentioned in this news story for his role as the Logistics Coordinator on the Balloon Sat Team consisting of students and faculty from the Kentucky Space Grant Consortium at Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC).

By Cheri Lawson, WEKU

A team from Bluegrass Community and Technical College will live-stream eclipse footage as part of a national Eclipse Ballooning Project

The NASA-sponsored project, which is led by the Montana Space Grant Consortium at Montana State University, has been years in the making.

In a classroom laboratory at Bluegrass Community and Technical College in Lexington students Alex Eberle and John Paul Beard are making sure all the equipment they need is in order for Monday.

The students are part of a team that will help live stream the Great American Eclipse,  by sending up a helium-filled balloon about the size of a small van. It will carry a video camera and other equipment into the atmosphere to an altitude up to 100,000 feet.


John Paul Beard points to the video camera that will actually stream the event. It’s  housed in what looks like a white styrofoam ball about as big as a basketball. He refers to it as “the payload.”

John Paul: “Inside the payload we have a very small constructed Arduino board that’s basically a tiny computer that makes the live streaming possible.”

To read entire article or listen to the radio spot, click HERE.

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County prepares for solar eclipse

For the first time since 1991, an estimated 391 million United States residents will be able to view a total solar eclipse in partial or total form, according to NASA.

Solar and lunar eclipses occur when the earth, sun and the moon align.

Though the total eclipse will not be visible in Jessamine County — it will be visible in Paducah — residents will still be able to enjoy the excitement of a partial eclipse.

The start of the partial eclipse will be around 1:02 p.m. and the maximum eclipse will be around 2:30 p.m. The celestial event should be over around 3:54 p.m., according to NASA’s website.

During this time, several places in Jessamine County will be hosting viewing parties.

Jessamine County Public Library will show two hours of NASA Television’s show, “Eclipse Across America: Through the Eyes of NASA,” with unprecedented live video of the celestial event from 1 to 3 p.m. 

The Wilmore Senior Community Center will host a live stream of “The Great American Eclipse” at 2 p.m.

A Bluegrass Community and Technical College student from Wilmore, John Paul Beard, will play a role in the making of the live stream. Beard will be the Logistics Coordinator on the Balloon Sat Team consisting of students and faculty from the Kentucky Space Grant Consortium at Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC).

To read entire Jessamine Journal article, click HERE.

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