It was early evening, the air was warm and sweet, and a friend of mine was sitting with some acquaintances on the roof deck of her house. On the wicker table, the jug of iced tea was empty, with only a puddle of condensation at its base. Aware that the sun had passed the yardarm, my friend turned to her guests: “Such a lovely afternoon. Can I get anyone a glass of wine?”“Oh,” said the guests, taken aback. “We don’t drink.” Read More
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that Parisians are rude. Those who interact with tourists are widely understood to be the rudest of all, what with their hauteur and their froideur and the reluctance of the waiters and shopkeepers among them to crack even the wintriest smile at American visitors.
Scowling salespeople and snooty waiters are not pleasant, but they seem to be the price one must pay to experience the culinary and architectural grandeur of the French capital. Read More
Can there be anything more tedious than Earth Day?
Year after year, four decades in a row, like the dripping of a leaky faucet, comes the tiresome scold-fest and guilt-o-rama that Americans are asked to join in every April 22.
On this day, we are meant to exude concern. We are urged to “go green” in some new way. Read More
The sky was brilliant blue and on the northern horizon we could see the vast icy prominence of Mount Katahdin gleaming gold in the afternoon sunshine over Maine’s Carrabassett Valley. Several of us whooshed to a slushy halt on the brow of a hill, beaming with the pleasure of skiing. Read More
It was a neighbor from a nearby street who first saw the flames. The morning was cool. The woodsy suburban street lay deserted. And fire was roaring in the upstairs side window of a pretty, white clapboard house.
By the time the fire engines arrived, not 10 minutes later, the blaze had advanced to the middle of the house and was rapidly devouring everything it touched.
No one was home, thank God — not even the dog. Read More
If things had gone differently, Rep. Bart Stupak would have been bathing last night in the grateful applause of pro-lifers who trusted him.
At a gala dinner at the Willard Hotel, the Michigan Democrat was supposed to have received the “Defender of Life” Award from the Susan B. Anthony List, a group dedicated to electing anti-abortion politicians.
But things went the way they did. Stupak voted the way he did — for Obamacare, with its murky language on abortion — and the group withdrew its honor, its dinner invitation and its electoral support. Read More
Driving home the other morning, I happened to travel behind two cars, each of which bore an old, peeling bumper sticker.
The first one said: “Why Is There Always Money for War, but Not Education?” The other featured the President George W. Bush-era liberal rant: “If You’re Not Outraged, You’re Not Paying Attention.”
In the Age of Obama, those crumbling bumper stickers have new relevance for the children who live in Washington, D.C.’s most benighted neighborhoods whose parents have tried to get them into better schools. Read More
Our family has crippling canine commitment issues. Sound familiar? It’s like a sickness. We have been ill with the love of dogs in general, and the inability to commit to a dog in particular, for months and months.
My husband and I know the children are desperate for a dog. Our hearts are spacious enough, we believe, to encompass the animal that, in Washington, D.C., would be our one true friend.
But which dog? A Labrador-owning pal said we’re picky to a ludicrous, Seinfeldian degree. She’s probably right, but what can we do? Read More
Oh, c’mon, the first lady’s right!
American children are too fat. They are! They have not always been fat, but they are now. Fat, fat, fat, and sluggish to boot.
They don’t run around enough. They eat great quantities of unspeakable food. Their bodies are bloated with the horrific amounts of corn sugars fed to them, and kept swollen by the lack of exercise that comes from an uninterested yet overprotective adult class that purchases for them sedentary entertainments and, in the name of safety, denies them the freedom to walk anywhere. Read More
There are certain things everyone knows, and if you dispute these settled understandings, you will be revealed not only as a member of the uneducated classes, but probably also a hard-hearted, right-wing, Tea Party climate-change denier. Read More
If you work a human body too hard, too quickly, eventually something will pop. It might be a torn ligament or a ripped muscle, but when it goes, everything hurts. For a while, you might push through the pain and keep exercising. But at some point, unless you want permanent injury, you have to stop, rest, re-evaluate and apply ice. It’s a question of limits, not abilities. The brain may have gone to Harvard, but after a point it won’t be able to stop the pain-wracked limbs from rebelling. Read More
As the children in my extended family have begun entering the teenage years, I’ve been quietly preparing to help them through the inevitable shocks of adolescence: The first love, the first heartache, the first break-up.
A 15-year-old relative just ended her first serious relationship, and, after long, consoling conversations, we think she’s going to be okay. She’ll have more time to herself, more time for schoolwork, and she won’t find herself obsessively clicking on a little red button every couple of minutes. Read More
If you are a man, chances are the name Elizabeth Gilbert will not ring even the tiniest bell down a single corridor of your mind.
If you are a woman, however, especially one of the book-group persuasion, the klaxons are probably going off. Elizabeth Gilbert? The pasta-eating, Ashram-visiting, Indonesian-medicine-man-consulting, Brazilian-lover-bedding, bravely independent writer? Yep, that’s the one. Read More
It’s dismaying that President Barack Obama has been so tepid, so feeble, so flaccid (as Charles Krauthammer put it) in his support of Iran’s brave dissidents. It’s upsetting because it’s not the way an American president should be. But it’s not so surprising, really, considering the source.
Obama has many fine qualities, no doubt, but in foreign policy he seems to lack instinct. His default setting is not freedom and its expansion, but caution and politics. Read More
"Let's get it done! This is the time to deliver! This is the place to commit. And, yes, there are still many obstacles. But it is up to us to overcome them."
Thus spoke Connie Hedegaard, the incoming president of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, as she addressed the massed ranks of politicians and negotiators before her earlier this week in Copenhagen's vast Bella Center. Read More