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Columns

Column: Food Deserts, Food Jungles

Sunday, December 21, 2014

If I need a gallon of milk, I can travel three miles to my town general store. If I need a spaghetti squash, I can find one in season at a farmer’s stand four miles away. Fresh sushi? I can have a California roll after traveling just five miles to the cooperative grocery store. (That’s pretty good, considering the Upper …

Column: ‘Hunger Games’ Vision of Rebellion Is Sheer Fantasy

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The latest Hunger Games film, Mockingjay- Part 1 , is topping the international box office. Although it’s a Hollywood blockbuster aimed at young adults, it presents potentially quite subversive ideas of mass revolution, economic sabotage and the populist fight against oligarchy. These themes of popular uprising are particularly relevant in light of the …

Column: Merry Christmas, Really, From an Atheist

Sunday, December 21, 2014

On one of my infrequent visits to Facebook, where I silently observe the interests and opinions of extended family members, I’ve noticed a small but growing anti-secular campaign. Many folks, including several of the aforementioned, vigorously object to the phrase “Happy Holidays.” It is apparently too euphemistic for their tastes. They demand that “Christ” be put back in Christmas. Some people say “Happy …

Willem Lange: We Found a Place in the Middle of Nowhere, and It’s Lovely

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Montpelier Snow is floating past the office window as I write. It’s perfect weather for what I’ve been doing for the last couple of days: plowing through the early stages of a travel book and giving thanks for the invention of the word processor. I have some photocopied …

Owner Betrays ‘New Republic’

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Washington At a 40th-birthday party in July for Franklin Foer, editor of the New Republic, the magazine’s young owner, Chris Hughes, got all choked up as he pledged to the roomful of writers at Foer’s country home in Pennsylvania that the two would be “intellectual partners for decades.” …

Acid Reflux In the White House

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

President Obama reportedly had a mysterious sore throat for weeks, but now the diagnosis is in: acid reflux into the throat, also called airway reflux or LPR (laryngopharyngeal reflux). This puts the president in good company. Since 1975, the occurrence of reflux has increased 400 percent (almost one …

Column: Ferguson Grand Jury’s Finding Was Proper

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A friend emailed last week with a question: “You said that you were reserving your (Ferguson) opinion until you read the evidence. What do you say now?” Fair enough. In an August column I wrote: “If there is so much we don’t know, why are so many committed …

Column: Football Stories Make Me Wonder: Have We Lost Our Senses?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Sometimes the poignancy and irony of adjacent newspaper stories seem, to me at least, more obvious in print than on the Web. Here’s an example: Last week the sports section of my local paper carried this story: “Petty …

Column: Garner Case Brings Rare Moment of Unity

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Washington The words, spoken about the Eric Garner travesty in New York, were righteous and powerful. “When you look at what they did to this guy and putting him in a chokehold like that, it’s inexcusable — absolutely …

Column: George Bailey’s Right: It’s a Wonderful Life

Monday, December 8, 2014

After decades of watching, I still cannot suppress a smile when I reach the climactic moment in the film Miracle on 34th Street when Kris Kringle’s lawyer dumps thousands of pieces of mail onto the desk of the …

Column: ‘Moneyball for Government’ Might Work

Monday, December 8, 2014

Washington One of the lovely formulations in John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address expressed his hope that “a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion.” Kennedy was talking about the Cold War, but we could use a little of this in the partisan and ideological warfare …

Editorial: Stifled Justice

Monday, December 8, 2014

I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.” With increasing panic, Eric Garner left no doubt regarding his distress as he was wrestled to a Staten Island sidewalk by …

Column: Even Climate Change Experts and Activists Are in Denial climate change

Monday, December 8, 2014

Colchester, England Another month, another important U.N. climate change conference. The latest is in Lima, the capital of Peru. Thousands of experts from the world of politics, business, academia and civil society — and Leonardo DiCaprio — have flown around the world to urge us all to curb …