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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Northwest Notes

-- By Tom Phillips

The Palouse, Eastern Washington
To judge by the news in Seattle, Lewis and Clark discovered America.  The business section of the Seattle Times covers western firms almost exclusively, and lists only Northwest stocks.  These are led by some of the biggest companies in America -- Amazon, Microsoft, Boeing, Starbucks, all headquartered in the Seattle area.  Washington is one of the most prosperous states in the US, kicking off so much tax revenue that the legislature just reduced tuition at state colleges by up to 20 percent.  Meanwhile, housing prices statewide are rising at the fastest rate in the US.

Eastern Washington produces and exports a staggering quantity of  food and drink -- wheat and barley, beans, apples, peaches, grapes and berries, wine and beer.  The Palouse in southeast Washington -- wave after wave of gently rounded hills -- is the most densely cultivated farmland in the world.  Unlike most of the country, Washington State is a net winner in world trade, exporting much more than it imports.   

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Heaven and Sodom in Seattle

--  By Tom Phillips

 Visitor keeping score   
In the official scorecard and program for the Seattle Mariners this month, two items caught a traveler's eye.  One was an interview with a Mariners pitcher who says that he carries scripture in his back pocket -- Colossians 3:23 -- "with whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the lord and not for men."  He said with every pitch he throws, he tries to "honor the lord."

Just a few pages away was a color ad for a club one block from Safeco Field -- a "gentlemen's club" called SoDo.  It showed a tattooed young woman in spike heels and a thong, thrusting her butt toward the reader, who is invited to "come party with our all-star ladies before, during or after the game!"

Neither item was remarkable in itself.   What struck the visitor was that neither would ever appear in the official program of the Yankees, or the Mets.   Both Heaven and Sodom have been whitewashed out of civic discourse in New York.  Cravings for the Lord are kept private, out of concern that someone might be offended.  And sex ads are relegated to louche publications like the Village Voice and the Verizon Yellow Pages.  Here, they co-exist along with instructions on how to keep score, and a refreshingly frank team analysis headlined "Lack of Depth Could Sink Mariners."

So far, this article is the best example of critical thinking the visitor has encountered in Seattle.  But where there's freedom, there's hope.

-- Copyright 2016 by Tom Phillips