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This painting depicts Francis Scott Key seeing the American flag flying over Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor the day after he witnessed the British bombardment of the fort in the War of 1812.  This sighting inspired the poet to write "The Star-Spangled Banner," which became the official United States national anthem in 1931.  (AP Photo)

Column: ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ Deserves Its Status

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Last weekend marked the 200th anniversary of the writing of The Star-Spangled Banner. Over the years, many debates have surrounded the national anthem — involving its meaning, its quality and the circumstances under which Francis Scott Key came to write it. Before you hear “Oh say, can you see . . . “ at the next ballgame or school assembly, make sure you’ve dispelled these myths first. ∎  The Star-Spangled Banner was written about an insignificant battle in an insignificant war. The nation’s future was at stake in 1814, with the United States on the brink of defeat in the third year of the War …

Column: Shed a Tear for the iPod

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Quietly, even stealthily, Apple last week brought about that moment that many of its most loyal followers dreaded would happen: It killed off the iPod. Oh, the name lives on for now, attached to a suite of weird late-generation devices — the Shuffle, the Nano, the Touch — but when the Apple Store …

Column: Princeton’s Faculty Stands With Students Against Sexual Violence

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Amid increasing national pressure on colleges and universities to more aggressively tackle sexual assault, Princeton University has finally decided to overhaul its policies and procedures. At 4 p.m. on Monday, university faculty members packed storied Nassau Hall for their first regularly scheduled meeting of the year. Arguably the most important item on the agenda: a vote on the following recommendations set forth earlier …

Column: A Political Wife Is Thrown Under the Bus, and Suffers in Silence

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Maureen McDonnell, having uttered not a single word in court for five weeks, stepped into a car and rode away from the crowd a newly convicted felon, still silent. Her husband, who made history as the first Virginia …

Column: Why the Sunday Talk Shows Still Matter

Saturday, September 6, 2014

This weekend, Chuck Todd of NBC News officially joins the ranks of journalists assigned to host the venerable Sunday morning network news programs. Though often derided as wonky and formulaic, these shows retain value — journalistic and financial — in a fractured media world. So let’s dispel some …

Column: Recline of Civility: Flyers in a Space Crunch

Friday, September 5, 2014

For the third time in about a week, aisle rage erupted on Monday after a dispute over a reclined seat led a Delta flight to make an unscheduled stop. One passenger was taken off of the plane in …

Column: Amazon Ruined the Book Business

Friday, September 5, 2014

Almost 20 years ago, during one of my brief but most notable periods of insanity, I bought a bookstore. Yes, I ventured into the bookselling business. I was floating on some years of experience as a book critic, journalist, book buyer, reader and idealistic dreamer about the kind …

Column: The Bravery of Steven Sotloff

Friday, September 5, 2014

Steven Sotloff was brave. As a journalist, he ventured into conflict zones and dark corners of the Middle East to tell the stories of people who often are too fearful to speak for themselves. He worked as a freelancer, without the security apparatus provided by major news organizations. …

Editorial: NATO Finds Its Mission

Friday, September 5, 2014

Say this for Russian President Vladimir Putin: He has ended NATO’s decades-old existential crisis. As the North Atlantic Treaty Organization meets in Wales, the abstract question of the alliance’s purpose in a post-Soviet world isn’t on the agenda. Instead, its leaders must devise a plan to counter the …

Column: Who Wrote the Book (and Data) of Love?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Gosh, am I tired of the pop sociology and pop psychology studies popping up in my news feed. Almost every one of these has severe limitations that get ignored in the hype. I’m going to pick on one example. According to a new study by the National Marriage …

Column: The World Must Mobilize to Combat Ebola

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

If the Ebola epidemic devastating the countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone had instead struck Washington, New York or Boston, there is no doubt that the health systems in place could contain and then eliminate the disease. Hospitals would isolate suspected cases. Health workers would be outfitted …

Willem Lange: The People You Meet in the Great Outdoors

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

One of the nicest things about my part-time TV job is that it gets me outdoors, as well as all over the map, to places I’d probably otherwise never have visited: mountains, rivers and lakes, and what New Hampshire calls the Great North Woods, or on some of …

Column: Let’s Talk About the Wide Racial Divide

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The tragic events in Ferguson, Mo., following the police shooting death of a young African-American man, have ignited a national conversation around deeply rooted racial tensions in America. Last week at Michael Brown’s funeral, where thousands of family, …