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Columns

A potpourri of musings

After your kind comments and questions during the past month:JUNK MAIL: Aptly described, coming all too frequently and in every possible size, with envelope art cleverly designed by experts to lure you into opening them up. Many are crammed with useless gifts nail files, return address ...

No gatekeepers

For years, people assumed encyclopedias had to be created by professionals. Then Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales attempted to create an encyclopedia without central planners.That sounded like a terrible idea to the old gatekeepers - people who hired experts to carefully fact-check and edit every ...

Answering atrocities of ISIS

There's a very 2001 feel to President Obama's request for authorization to use military force and the nauseating sense that we'll be at war indefinitely.Although we haven't suffered a catastrophic hit as we did on 9/11, we've been witness to atrocities - vicious promissory notes on debts to be ...

Sleaze in a $5,000 suit

When he was secretary of state, Henry Kissinger was often - and deliberately - seen in the company of attractive actresses, including Jill St. John and Candice Bergen. Kissinger, whom nobody ever accused of being a matinee idol physically, offered this explanation for his seeming appeal to ...

‘Kingsman’ a fun twist on spy genre

Matthew Vaughn, director of "Kick-Ass," adapts another one of Mark Millar's twisted comic book worlds in "Kingsman: The Secret Service," and riffs the spy genre with the same violent aplomb.Loosely based off Millar's "Secret Service," "Kingsman" follows street punk Gary "Eggsy" Unwin (Taron ...

Glib ‘Happy Talk’

When Alfred E. Neuman said "What me worry?" on the cover of Mad magazine, it was funny. But this message was not nearly as funny coming from President Barack Obama and his National Security Advisor, Susan Rice.In a musical comedy, it would be hilarious to have the president send out his "happy ...

Why think about advanced care planning?

Often times when we visit our doctor's office or are admitted to the hospital we are asked the question "do you have an advanced directive?" Many of us may or may not even know what is meant by an advanced directive. End-of-life care is not a topic we tend to discuss with family or friends ...

Another reluctant warrior

WASHINGTON - President Obama's latest war strategy makes one wonder: Is another Woodrow Wilson in the Oval Office debating with himself about how to meet the existential threat that faces him?In laying out his call to Congress for a new authorization for use of military force in the Middle ...

Judge’s ruling on gay marriage ban is about bigotry

In June, it will be 52 years since George Wallace stood in the schoolhouse door.It happened at the University of Alabama, where two African-American students, Vivian Malone and James Hood, were attempting to register. In facing down three federal officials demanding that he stand aside and ...

Why I’m pulling for Brian Williams

Newsrooms are snake pits. I say this with great affection.Newsrooms are tribal and competitive, fueling pettiness in the most honorable people. Editors cling to turfs like dictators policing their borders, and sometimes they mistake intimidation for management. As for reporters, they make their ...

Bobby Jindal for president?

Gov. Bobby Jindal's name is not first on most people's list of candidates for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, but maybe we should at least start paying attention to him. If one's political enemies are any indication of potential strength, Jindal of Louisiana may be a more ...

Facing bad-faith questions of faith

At an event in London on trade policy, Scott Walker was asked about evolution. "It's almost a tradition now," the moderator said, to ask "senior Republicans" if they are "comfortable with the idea of evolution.""I'm going to punt on that one as well," the Wisconsin governor replied. "That's a ...

Cui Bono?

"Cui bono?" Who benefits? It was the question ancient Romans asked when hoping to cut through a fog of possible causes for a problem.As of this morning, U.S. Marines were evacuating Sanaa, the capital of Yemen. We've seen this movie before: the bonfires of documents, the hammer blows to ...

Clouds make you appreciate the sun

In perhaps the greatest paradox of all, it seems that it takes death to make us appreciate life.I suppose you could say it every week, every day for that matter, but this week in particular a number of deaths made me realize the sanctity of human life.The week started with the horrible news ...

The daily life in a group home

When I tell people that I work in a community based residential treatment home for children they usually ask "What is that?" Then when I say a "group home" for children I get asked a myriad of questions. So, I thought writing an article about what daily life is like for the children who are ...

Spontaneous order

Most of life happens without a central planner. Yet people think we need one.Suppose you'd never seen a skating rink, and I told you that I want to lay down some ice and charge people money to strap sharp blades on their feet. They will zip around on the ice -- young and old, skilled and ...

Back to the Nineteenth Century

My recent column about the growth of on-demand jobs like Uber making life less predictable and secure for workers unleashed a small barrage of criticism from some who contend that workers get what they're worth in the market.A Forbes Magazine contributor, for example, writes that jobs exist ...

Obama’s quest for a grand bargain with Iran seems unwise

"We will extend a hand if you are unwilling to unclench your fist," President Obama proclaimed in his inaugural address in January 2009. He characterized those to whom this was addressed in negative terms, but the implication was that this president, unlike his predecessor, would be willing to ...

Why did Brian Williams do it?

These are tough times for NBC's Brian Williams - and tougher times for journalism.The NBC newsman was suspended Tuesday night for six months amid charges that he misremembered or conflated wartime incidents he reported on from Iraq and Israel. He has also come under scrutiny for possible ...

A mixed Papel blessing

When the Gallup poll last asked, Pope Francis was rated favorably by 76 percent of Americans (including 78 percent of Protestants and 73 percent of those with no religious affiliation) and unfavorably by only 9 percent, a better than 8-1 favorable rating. These are numbers that almost any ...