Yesterday's breaking news: Russia's space program can no longer be arsed to take 'N Sync's Lance Bass into the ether. Because he '[failed] to fulfill the conditions of his contract [namely, not forking over the $20 million required for the journey],' according to an official with the program, Bass will remain earthbound, at least for the foreseeable future.

A highlight from the Times' coverage of this important news story:

'Adding insult to injury, the space agency said Mr. Bass, 23, would be replaced on the October mission by a cargo container.'


Wanting does not die

The poet Martha Serpas makes me cry, although usually in a good way (be that what it may).

In Praise of the Passion Mark

First the unintentional: raspberry
blush, many-speckled lights,
and the message: oops, sorry.

Then the hard mark of the all-nighter,
a true Hoover, a hole black as leather,
daring you to plummet.

We were dancing, it just happened,
she said, helplessly sentenced
to a week of turtlenecks

in May, in the sticky South. The frozen
spoon failing, she took a curling iron
to her neck and still her mother knew

the mix of teeth and lips and love.
Alone, she admired her shoulder's
violet smear: she was wanted

and had wanted. She'd have it
needled and inked, a permanent
badge of desire, a license for love.

And when the plaid-clad chem teacher
appeared with his bright bruise,
news traveled fast: wanting
does not die after all, after age,
one sort of taking in does not
supersede another. Go

for the jugular. We cannot
be sucked


Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero

Although I haven't actually checked, I'm sure CNN has a One Year Anniversary of September 11 graphic all set to flood the airwaves (if it hasn't already) over the next week. (Ditto MSNBC and the broadcast channels, no doubt.) I also have a general fear that the worst is yet to come as far as treacly, exploitative, jingoistic commemorations of last year's terror.

But Frontline's Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero is not, admirably and thankfully, among said worst. Rather, it's a truly thoughtful and undeniably thought-provoking look at a variety of answers to the question, 'Where was God on September 11?'

A Catholic Monsignor explains how he knew immediately upon hearing of the attacks in New York that religion was behind them. A photographer looking at images of people jumping from thousands of feet to their death wonders whether they saw heaven beneath them as they leapt. Some parents who lost children tell how they've come to accept those losses as God's or Allah's plan. Marian Fontana, whose firefighter husband died in the towers, admits that she's given up on God, at least for now.

All told, the program is a stunning look at what seems to me one of the key questions of that day: how can faith answer for such an inconceivable horror? (Or can it?) In the process, it gives space to anger, and hope, and severe doubt--space that I imagine few other September 11 tributes in the American media will allow.