Subscribe to Matthew Pate RSS feed

Matthew Pate


Strong evidence against capital punishment

Just this week Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge was almost gleeful in stating her intent to set execution dates for several inmates on the state’s death row. I worry about people who think capital punishment represents the great pinnacle of justice. Given her demonstrated proclivities to shill for all manner other ultra-conservative, anti-science and anti-environmental causes, the fact that she champions an ineffectual and draconian punishment philosophy is nauseatingly predictable. At least she’s consistent.

A growing family farm

A few weeks ago I wrote about a small gardening project I had undertaken. I built planter boxes and trellises against my old shed. I planted gourds, moonflowers and pumpkins in the boxes. The gourds and moonflowers are now snaking their way slowly up the trellises. I am hopeful that the summer will yield many flowers and alien-looking fruit.

Long march to Flag Day

While it doesn’t get the attention that many national holidays receive, today is Flag Day, a celebration of the stars and stripes. Like so many American holidays, Flag Day began as a small local observance and grew to nationwide acclaim. As with many American holidays, there’s also a bit of controversy as to which community should be given credit for being first.

Camels, oranges and charity

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about charity. Specifically, I’ve taken note of recent news stories where certain wealthy individuals of my acquaintance have been lauded for their charitable donations. While their philanthropy is indeed laudable, I can’t help but focus on the fact that their charity is funded in large measure through business practices that I believe to be unethical, destructive to the community and, frankly, immoral.

Camels, oranges and charity

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about charity. Specifically, I’ve taken note of recent news stories where certain wealthy individuals of my acquaintance have been lauded for their charitable donations. While their philanthropy is indeed laudable, I can’t help but focus on the fact that their charity is funded in large measure through business practices that I believe to be unethical, destructive to the community and, frankly, immoral.

Camels, oranges and charity

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about charity. Specifically, I’ve taken note of recent news stories where certain wealthy individuals of my acquaintance have been lauded for their charitable donations. While their philanthropy is indeed laudable, I can’t help but focus on the fact that their charity is funded in large measure through business practices that I believe to be unethical, destructive to the community and, frankly, immoral.

Doughnuts with Kant and walnuts

There was a major annual observance this past week, and I’d hazard to guess most of you let it slip by without notice. Obviously, I mean National Doughnut Day. National Doughnut Day is celebrated in the United States on the first Friday in June each year.

TSA looking for Minotaurs

The Transportation Security Administration has been in the news a lot lately. The coverage has not been flattering. Too few screeners, high failure rates and government-leading rates of employee turnover are but a few of the leading complaints against the embattled agency.

Hope on wispy branches

The fragility of life is one of the most explored topics in literature. This week I have confronted a situation that made me keenly aware of the perilous balance between this realm and the next. I know the inevitable conclusion of all Earthly matters, but the struggle to process this solemn truth is seldom easy.

Term papers cause dissonance

It’s that time in the Spring semester most college professors dread: grading of final papers. In many instances we assign term papers because we feel we must. Students should learn how to do basic research and report the results in a cogent and succinct fashion. They should learn how to properly follow formatting guides. They should learn how to compose paragraphs that flow one into the next, forming a story that is compelling and complete.

A century of bunkshooting fear

Recently, the evangelist Franklin Graham held a prayer rally at the Arkansas State Capitol where he urged citizens to vote for Christian candidates who support “biblical principles.” During his speech, he railed against what he characterized as the “growth of secularism.”

Stick a pin in me…

At several points in my life I have had a bulletin board. On these boards I’ve pinned post cards from trips, photos of friends, menus, magnets, mementos, school fliers and other little arcana as suited me at the time. Given their predictable appearance in the back-to-school aisles of the local big box store, it’s probably safe to assume that the custom continues.

Oligarchs rise in dirty money

The concept of hegemony is popular among people who study the distribution of power across societies and the world. The term ‘hegemony’ is used to indicate a condition where a small group of people exert a disproportionate or unfair influence over another group.

Rubble reflects long tradition

Long time readers know that my hometown, Pine Bluff, is often the topic of my weekly column. The City of Progress provides me with a lot of inspiration. Some of it’s hopeful and uplifting. Some not so much. As long as I can remember, the town has struggled with an image problem. Whatever the reality of life here in River City, it suffers in the telling. I certainly share the blame for some of that.

And the real socialist is…

As we get deeper into the weeds of the current election season, the din of empty rhetoric is deafening. Much of the blame goes to the Republicans’ darling of the moment, Donald Trump. I see Trump as the equivalent of cotton candy. It’s all puffed up, showy, appropriate for a circus and utterly void of meaningful substance. He’s all emotion, derogatory bating and narcissism.

These boots are made for justice

If you’ve ever been under water too long and aren’t sure you’ll make it to the surface in time to breathe, then you know how I’ve felt over the last few months. It was among the most stressful and unpleasant times in my life. Thankfully I’ve made it to the metaphorical surface and my lungs feel nice and full.

Needing more nooks for books

If you’re around me long enough, I’ll probably give you a book. If you’re fortunate, it’ll be something other than the ones I’ve written. When directly asked, I might give up a copy of my first book, but surrendering one’s magnum opus is a lot like giving somebody a framed photo of your baby. Even if it’s ugly, they have to pretend it isn’t. Nobody wants to hear “who put the monkey in a stroller?”

One hundred year board meeting

Even if you have been living under the proverbial rock, you’re likely aware that this weekend is the 100th anniversary of Frank Sinatra’s birth. I am an unapologetic Sinatra fan. I have been since high school. Oddly enough, my love of Ol’ Blue Eyes may have begun as the result of a magazine offer.

Cranberry sauce demands order

With Thanksgiving now in the rearview, guests gone and belts re-buckled, I have realized a few things about my family’s annual observance. Of course there are the memories, both saccharine and sad. There are the traditions and stories to be told.

A Japanese story made in Arkansas

Shortly after Pearl Harbor, U.S. Pres. Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. With his signature, all persons of Japanese descent were ordered from the West Coast to one of 10 internment camps, most of which were located in remote areas of California, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Texas, and Arkansas.

I’ve Got a Secret

My favorite movie is the John Ford classic, The Quiet Man (1952). It stars John Wayne as Sean “Trooper” Thornton, a disenchanted American boxer who travels back to his birthplace, Inishfree, Ireland. His co-star is the red-haired beauty, Maureen O’Hara, who plays a strong-willed Irish woman, Mary Kate Danaher. O’Hara and Wayne starred opposite one another in five films. They were a perfect pairing.

Something to think about

T he past couple of weeks I’ve been on the road a lot. I’ve eaten enough stratospherically priced airport food to contemplate a second mortgage. I’ve also enjoyed cramped seating, howling babies and weather delays. Even so, I managed to get back home safely, sound and exhausted.