Beltway lessons

October 12, 2010 The evidence is right under their noses, yet they ignore it.I am living in the Washington, D.C., area for a spell. I moved here temporarily from Pittsburgh — flyover country — which is the land of friendly, considerate people.People are not so considerate in D.C. — particularly on the roadways.Drivers here come from every part of the globe and drive every kind of vehicle. Yet most have one thing in common.You better get out of their way.

Weird about money

October 12, 2010 We’re weird about money.  We want it.  But nobody wants to talk about it.Sometimes — like on a date or at a class reunion — we pretend like we have it, when we don’t.Other times —like when we see a homeless person or our kids whine for designer jeans — we pretend we don’t have any, when in fact we do.I come from a long line of money weirdness. My parents fought about money.  But they told us that it was rude to talk about money.

Why religious literacy matters

October 11, 2010  Twenty-first century America is the most religiously diverse society on Earth and — among developed countries — one of the most religious.But how much do inhabitants of our faith-saturated land actually know about religion? Not very much, according to a new survey released by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life on Sept. 28.Fewer than half of Americans know that Martin Luther inspired the Reformation, the Dalai Lama is Buddhist, the Jewish Sabbath begins on Friday and other basic facts about the world’s major faiths.

Hats off to teachers

October 11, 2010 When your nephew tells you how much he likes his teachers at school and wonders if there might be a chance that you, his aunt the reporter, could write a little something about them, it’s hard to say no. Even after Hagen told me that he knows there’s things more important that need to be put in the newspaper, I knew I had to do something and decided to make it this week’s column. Hagen is a fifth-grader at Hillcrest Elementary in Lynn, but I couldn’t believe it when he told me he has four teachers.

It takes more than speechifying

October 11, 2010 Nobody questions Barack Obama’s talent as an effective orator — it’s more a question of what he says than how he says it.With or without those omnipresent teleprompters, the president is failing to connect to the majority of his fellow Americans, mainly because they emphatically disagree with most of the snake-oil policies he’s trying to sell them.

Speaker support

October 8, 2010 Dear Editor:I understand that the candidates from the first Congressional district race will participate in a debate at the University of Central Arkansas next week. Unquestionably there are many topics to be discussed in this first post-primary debate, one of which should be about the future Speaker of the House.

Budget woes

October 8, 2010 Dear editor:As if six-figure salaries for lottery executives weren’t enough, the Arkansas Lottery Commission has been allowing top executives paid time off, some as much as 500 hours, according to an article on Thankfully, that policy was recently reversed.But, how ill-fitting it is that our state’s spending habits mirror those of Washington, where it’s deemed acceptable to spend advertising dollars to promote an $862 billion stimulus bill.

Widow who shot boy wasn’t wrong

October 8, 2010 After reading about what happened to Margaret Matthews in Chicago, I called my mom and thanked her.Here’s a synopsis of Matthews’ story:The 68-year-old retiree and widow returned to her South Side home after grocery shopping on Sept. 28. She saw one of the windows to her house broken and two boys running from the scene. Matthews called police, but the boys returned after they left. The details of what happened next come from a Chicago Sun-Times story of Sept. 29:

Creating a fund for any and all reasons

October 8, 2010 There’s a memorable episode of “Seinfeld” in which George invents a fake organization called the Human Fund, to fool coworkers into believing that a gift was made on their behalf to a seemingly worthwhile cause. In dreaming up an innocuous, patriotic-sounding name the writers might just as well have called it the American Future Fund.

Listen, just stick to one idea

October 8, 2010 There are so many blunders in life that are really only visible in the rear view mirror. Mostly that’s because we refuse to listen until we can actually see wreckage. Predictions of dire results don’t always impress us and we believe somehow our experiences will be different.I am such a great example of this method of living and I offer up my own stubborn insistence on doing it my way as a cautionary tale.