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Columns

Column: Fall Was My Father’s Season, and Halloween Was His Night

Friday, October 31, 2014

My father was reserved and taciturn, traits he inherited from his Edwardian mother, who wore her collars up to the chin and a perpetual look of disapproval. Occasionally, though, at about this time of year, he let loose a little. Something about All Hallow’s Eve — talk of ghouls and ghosts, spirits and séances — must have appealed to a chemist awed by the mysteries of molecules and the infinite …

Column: Moderate Thunder Rumbles Out in Kansas

Friday, October 31, 2014

Iola, Kan. The several dozen citizens gathered at a street corner just off the main square of this southeastern Kansas town of 5,600 were polite and friendly in the Midwestern way. They did not look in the least like a band of counterrevolutionaries intent on reversing the direction of the government in Topeka. Yet the results of the Tea Party rebellion four years …

Column: But What If the Republicans Don’t Sweep?

Friday, October 31, 2014

The prevailing assumption is that Republicans will take the Senate in the midterm elections on Nov. 4. It would be a surprise if they didn’t. But not a huge surprise. In the poll averages at RealClearPolitics, Republican Senate candidates have leads smaller than 2.3 percentage points in Alaska, Georgia and Iowa. If all three of them lost — because of better-than-expected Democratic turnout, …

The ‘Time Tax’ Discourages Do-Good Spirit

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Imagine that whenever you planned to do volunteer work, the government told you that you must also pay a small tax. Or suppose that whenever you gave money to charity, you were charged a levy. Or that every time you gave blood, you had to start by writing …

Column: In an MRI Tube, a Captive Audience for Political Ads

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Lebanon In this election season there is no escaping the crass political pitch, even, it turns out, during the deep and dark seclusion of a private medical procedure. On Saturday morning, bright and early, I report to Dartmouth-Hitchcock …

Pick One: Obama Is Too Weak, or Too Strong

Thursday, October 30, 2014

In July, when House Republicans voted to sue the president, they spoke of the urgent need to stop “tyranny” at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. “Our freedom is in peril,” warned Rep. Tom Rice of South Carolina, the man behind the lawsuit. “We cannot stand by and …

Willem Lange: Let’s Talk Politics, or Should I Stick to Flowers and Swamps?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Montpelier The other day in the locker room, an elderly man only one year my junior advised me to limit my column topics to woods, fields and mountains, and to “stay out of politics.” It’s probably not a good idea for naked men, especially those of opposite political …

Column: The Ivy-Covered Past of the Supreme Court

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Washington, D.C. Reading about a widely reported visit to Yale University by three of its alums who are Supreme Court justices, I couldn’t help but notice that only three law schools are represented at the top of what …

Column: The Cure for Our Ebola Panic Is More Panic

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Listen. A lot of people have been complaining about our Ebola panic. Turn on cable news, and you find people frantically asking if you can get it from a bowling ball (nope) and whether the virus is notably, magically different now that it has touched American soil (also …

Column: Secrets of the 2014 Midterm Elections

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

There’s a hidden history to the nasty midterm election campaign that will, mercifully, end on Nov. 4. What’s not being widely talked about is as important as what’s in the news. Underappreciated fact No. 1: The number of Democratic seats that are not in play this year. In …

Column: From Community Colleges to Elite Schools

Monday, October 27, 2014

Every year about 3 million students graduate from high school in the United States — and only about 50,000 will have the qualifications to begin their academic careers at one of the country’s top 30 private research universities. These are schools that not only teach, but also inspire …

Column: Here’s Why I Want My Son, and All Boys, to Play With Dolls

Monday, October 27, 2014

Shortly after the birth of my third child, I was walking through Washington, D.C. My wife and I were pushing our newborn in a stroller. My 2-year-old daughter was pushing her baby doll in a stroller. So was my 4-year-old son. Within a few minutes, we were verbally …

Column: Tomato or Eggplant? How French Intellectuals Settled the Shape of the Earth

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Two hundred and 30 years ago, Charles Marie de la Condamine returned to France with proof about the shape of the Earth after spending 10 years in Latin America. For thousands of years, human beings had roamed the …