Washington is a one-industry town. The nation's capital has wonderful art museums, concerts and theaters, but they're only supplements to the big story playing out on the front pages, always the government.
Psychiatry has always been the troubled child at the table of medical specialists. Psychiatric labels are based on deviations of "normal," which change with trends in moral and intellectual attitudes.
Mother's Day approaches, and children are decorating cards with ribbons and lace and wrapping boxes of chocolates. Just how we celebrate depends on the length of our memories.
A wit, surveying Washington's monuments, once diagnosed the nation's capital as suffering an "edifice complex." The city's vast array of monumental buildings, housing the three branches of government, honoring the founders and heroes of the republic, and housing extraordinary temples of fine art, science, technology and history, could give an overwhelmed visitor that impression.
Between the tragedy over loss of life and limb in Boston and the rejoicing in the certainty that these two young men will not strike again, there's a large space for reflection. Emotion clouds reason, which is why we live by the rule of law.
"Mad Men" is back with a loyal audience after a 10-month hiatus. It returned with 3.4 million viewers, its second-highest rating, and is again getting so much intellectual attention you might think it was "War and Peace."
"Art" can smooth the rough edges of life, nurturing beauty and imagination, and showing a different and provocative way of looking at the world, but artists -- and museums and galleries that show their work -- are sometimes surprised by the hostile reception their works provoke.
The digital age continues to confuse and confound a generation of adults who have learned to participate in it, but lack the ability for what Ethel Merman as Annie Oakley called "doin' what comes naturally."
No matter how firmly we tell women to be more like men -- to shape, stretch, discipline and work to overcome biological determinants -- biology keeps emerging as a crucial factor. Like everything else in life, it affects the less privileged women in a different, downsized way.
Fifty years ago, Betty Friedan described the suburban woman as the unhappy housewife. She lacked challenging choices. Her abilities and identities were attached to her kitchen. She could whip up sour-cream-and-artichoke dips in a flash in an up-to-date kitchen with a refrigerator, range and blender in coordinated shades of peach, tan and aquamarine, but you could hear growing laments of discontent as the grrr in the purr became a growl.
Everyone's looking for a quick fix in education -- President Obama most of all. "Let's make sure none of our children start out the race of life already a step behind," he says
Conservatives usually have a few bones to pick with Hollywood over the Academy Awards. Not content with merely opening it, Hollywood pushes the envelope, often with questionable taste and mockery of common values.
Gender used to tell us about language; now, it describes behavioral roles. The word sex was unambiguous, referring to the natural biological differences. But the genderfication of sex expands to encompass the experiences of the transgendered, lesbian and male homosexuals.
The Germans play "gotcha" with a decidedly Teutonic skill and attitude. The latest victim is Annette Schavan, Chancellor Merkel's education minister, who resigned her position in a gathering storm of accusations that she plagiarized the doctoral dissertation she wrote 32 years ago. The title sounds particularly apt: "Person and Conscience."
American women have been cleared for combat, but the generals at the Pentagon only think they are the very model of the modern major general.
Hillary Clinton got an early Valentine from President Obama, leaving Joe Biden to celebrate Groundhog Day alone. Perhaps the Veep sees a shadow already (you can't blame him for looking over his shoulder), and he'll burrow underground.
The diversity warriors, with no sense of humor and short on irony, keep looking for victims in all the old places. President Obama, advertising his inaugural address as a call to unity and a "coming together as one people," rounded up the usual suspects as if nothing in America had changed since Seneca Falls, Selma and Stonewall.
The last of the college applications have been rewritten, tweaked and polished, and at last entrusted to the tender mercies of the U.S. Mail or the Internet. Fretting over deadlines morphs into waiting, and yearning, wishing and praying for coveted letters of acceptance. This is the annual crisis in thousands of homes with ambitious high school seniors -- the high school seniors and their parents who still believe that college is the route to the American Dream.
A poet laureate comes to Washington. Yawn. In the world capital of the sound and fury that often signifies not very much, the disciplined sentiments of a poet sound as alien as a tax cut for millionaires.
The pagan god Janus has two faces, and that's a good thing. He can look to the future and reflect on the past, all at the same time. As ancient gods go, Janus is good at transitions. January, named for Janus, is not only a dreary month to get past as quickly as possible, but it's a time for useful reflection and resolve.