Thousands of moms and dads, following the script written into an autumn ritual of the middle class, are preparing to say farewell to the sons and daughters they've loved, nurtured and tried to civilize for two decades. They're sending the next generation off to college and saying goodbye to a considerable chunk of the family savings.
Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall join this year's roster of celebrity deaths. Their names and fame preoccupy us in public mourning, though most of us were no closer to them in life than to a movie or television screen. Mourning differs in different times, but how we experience the tears and the reminiscences tells us a lot about ourselves.
April is the cruelest month, and August is the melancholy month. Even the crickets sing a different song at dusk as August begins summer's slow retreat. Children listen for the back-to-school bells as autumn closes in and the days begin to get noticeably shorter.
The "Republican war on women" is a fiction extracted from the imaginations of Democratic campaign strategists and endorsed by President Obama. But if the president is looking to help some oppressed people of the female persuasion, there's an opportunity at hand to wage a "war."
The front pages across the world tell an old and familiar story. Hatred of the Jews is back. The sons and daughters of Abraham enjoyed a brief respite from an ancient hatred, but it was only an intermission. The old story never ends.
Social conservatives feel betrayed by the popular culture, and why not? If Hollywood depicts someone with a gun or a Bible, he's a figure of ridicule, entitled to say with Rodney Dangerfield: "I don't get no respect."
New York -- New York, New York, a wonderful town. (The Bronx is up, and the Battery's down.)
We weep for Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel, Eyal Yifrach, the three Jewish teenagers whose lives were brutally cut short because they chose to walk home from their religious school, hoping to catch a ride like teenage boys safely do in the civilized neighborhoods of the world.
We once believed that successful politicians made sacrifices for us, that when they chose public service it meant tight finances for most of them. No longer.
Dov Charney was called the CEO of Sleezecake, responsible for the heightened pornification of fashion advertisements aimed at very young women, and he remained king of the mountain at American Apparel as long as the heap he was sitting on was green, as in money. For a while, it was.
The other day a teacher of a ninth-grade English class at an elite private school in the nation's capital asked students who had transferred from public schools to list the poets they had studied. Several hands shot up, eager to tell.
America was swamped a generation ago by "the rising tide of mediocrity," in the apt phrase of Ronald Reagan's National Commission on Excellence in Education. We're still trying to keep our heads above water. A high-school diploma still doesn't mean what it should mean.
There's a narrow band of outrage for 21st-century women in America. There's the occasional sling and the odd arrow aimed our way, but women can stand up to men when men need standing up to, and pay no price for it. Women of the First World enjoy the luxury of free speech and the separation of church and state, blessings unimaginable in the grim places of the world.
Inquiring minds want to know, and nothing frustrates the modern mind like tragedy that defies rational explanation.
Women have come a long way, Miss Baby, since Betty Friedan railed against "the feminine mystique" of the suburban woman locked in a "comfortable concentration camp" and since Gloria Steinem mocked the attentions of men at the Playboy Club who were seduced by her pink bunny costume with its tall floppy ears and saucy cotton tail.
If Shakespeare were alive and invited to give the commencement address at a major American university, the favorite spring sport on campus would explode with loud and shrill protest.
BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- When Alice Walton, the Wal-Mart heiress and second richest woman in America, decided to build a Museum of American Art in her hometown deep in the Arkansas Ozarks, no one questioned her ability to spend money. Her daddy, Sam Walton, had left her a lot of it. Forbes puts her worth at $34.9 billion. What they questioned, expressed with bicoastal sneer and snark, was her ability to know what she was getting for daddy's money.
Rome is "the eternal city," and it's eternally an inspiration, particularly this year during Holy Week and the run-up to the canonization of not one but two new Roman Catholic saints, both of them popes.
Russian President Vladimir Putin's calculating behavior, first in the Crimea and now in Ukraine, sends chills down the spine of the body politic. Once gaga over Barack Obama, their warmth has turned to frost.
Everything Hillary Clinton does and says looks and sounds like she's running for president of the student body, collecting testimonials, Valentines and staying out of everything remotely controversial.
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