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A Night Of Champions

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Taking The Leap

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Bang With Friends

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Lots Of Little Libraries

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Living Below The Line

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The Rise Of Swatting

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The Information Age

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Dig Deeper

As my fellow Americans were concerning themselves with Lance Armstrong’s teary admissions to Oprah—well, I walked away.
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A New Birthday Song

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An App For That

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The N-Word

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Go Your Own Way

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The Year In Television

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Erasing All Doubt

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Giving Thanks, 2012

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Giving Thanks, And Giving Back

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Fifteen Seconds

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The Power of Fail

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Even When You Fail

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Education In The Digital Age

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The Politics Of Pizza

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Our Better Angels

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Good Books

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A Nation Rises

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The Information Age

Published on January 24, 2013 by in Columns

This is the information age—really.

Everything you could ever want to know is just a couple of clicks away.  From Princess Di’s birthday to detailed medical articles about neurosurgery, the world’s wealth of knowledge is at our fingertips.  It’s easy to forget that this is a very new phenomenon.

About twelve years ago, when the internet (as we know it) was still very young and access to it was substantially scarcer than it is today, I received a phone call late one night.  “What was Plessy v.Ferguson?”  My friend, as it turns out, wasn’t on “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.”  A conversation with her co-workers had led to them rattling off all of the notable Supreme Court cases they could remember. Read more…

 
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Dig Deeper

Published on January 17, 2013 by in Columns

This week, as more serious people have been debating the ins and outs of reasonable gun control, my thoughts have been somewhere else.  As more responsible people have civilly discussed a rational approach to raising the debt ceiling, I’ve deliberately looked the other way.  As my fellow Americans were concerning themselves with this year’s flu virus, or the Golden Globes, or Lance Armstrong’s teary admissions to Oprah, or whether Chuck Hagel would be a good and honorable Secretary of Defense—well, I walked away.

So I won’t be tackling any of the great debates that our country is engaged in this week; it seems unlikely that I’d be able to sway many opinions, anyway.  Instead, I feel like sharing some of the cool things I’ve learned while neglecting my civic responsibility to help resolve the most pressing issues of the day.  Besides, you deserve a break from these national conversations—at least for a moment. Read more…

 
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A New Birthday Song

Published on January 10, 2013 by in Columns

It’s probably happened to you.  You’re at a restaurant, celebrating your birthday with friends and family.  Suddenly, out of nowhere, a dozen waiters and waitresses appear, clacking together wooden plates or rattling tambourines, and they begin singing, well, something.  It’s not “Happy Birthday to You,” the song that the Guinness Book of World Records calls “the most recognized song” in the English language.  In fact, the birthday song the waiters are singing is not recognizable at all.

Perhaps you’ve heard that “Happy Birthday to You,” though penned in 1893, is not in the public domain.  It’s true; it’s still copyrighted.  And every year, Warner Chappel Music rakes in about $2 million off its use in television and movies.  Read more…

 
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An App For That

Published on January 3, 2013 by in Columns

There was a time when I hated standing in line at the grocery store. Like you probably do, I’d walk back and forth a few times, carefully evaluating the speed of each cashier, the length of each line, and the number of items in each shopper’s cart—letting each factor inform my decision before committing to the checkout aisle that would get me out the soonest. I came to be pretty good at it, but I’d always kick myself if another shopper chose a better line and made it out before me.

This week, however, I retired from the checkout line game. One evening, I actually chose one of the longest lines, a register manned by a cashier who must have been in training. This was not some sort of Zen exercise to develop greater patience, nor was it an act of penitence, an attempt to atone for past sins. It’s not a resolution for the New Year, or an effort to build character. I simply discovered a new app for my smartphone that makes waiting in line, well, not so bad. Read more…

 
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